To answer some comments. I do have a weird passion for Ermenegildo Zegna. I always thought they had the best stuff in Esquire, and their prices are simply laughably high, just outrageously so. Beyond most of the truly expensive brands. I really like them because they always have at least one piece of clothing in their stores that is laughably terrible priced, something like $500 US. I respect that they can still push products. Furthermore, most of the tailored clothing I pick up in Shenzhen for $10 looks basically the same as theirs with worse stitching.
The Chongqing Zegna was an especially cool experience. I talked to the manager for a solid hour. I found out how much product they were pushing, what Chinese customers were interested in, how the area had developed over the last twenty years (from farm land to luxury mall shopping), what their employee wages were, what her wage was, what the employee turn over was, her feelings on Taiwan (typically harsh), the Chinese structure of Zegna profits, raises, and business.
She also told me the weirdest understanding of the Tiananmen massacre I have ever heard. Apparently newlyweds kissing in public is involved (I believe this is about Li Lu who suddenly got married at the square apparently), kissing in public being a cultural no no strong enough to cause the government to start firing. She mentioned the she only knew of one person dying.
To Allison's comment about beating up trees, have you seen Crouching Tiger? Those trees take a beating! I had to really.
So far Hangzhou has been a breath of much less polluted air. I got here in the morning and ate WAY too much. The problem was that I ordered two things I did not really end up liking, one thing that was okay, and one thing that was VERY good. As such, I gorged heartily on the one thing and felt guilty about leaving a good portion of the others. This caused me to have devastating heart burn throughout the day, forcing me to walk for five minutes and sit for five minutes for a good while.
The main point of the day was to go slowly and just relax. I found a great dorm style hotel (my first). It really does rock. The locked wardrobes are huge, there is a gym, there is a washing machine, and the place is clean, nice and polished. Its expensive as far as dorms go, but being that I have yet to stay in a dorm, its my second cheapest room on this trip (the cheapest being basically an out house).
I slowly walked up to the West Lake, Hangzhou's claim to fame, a huge lake romanticized by countless Chinese artists. I spent most of my time with a girl I met that initially looked very plain but friendly, and upon glasses removal revealed herself to be truly very beautiful. I gave her a free English lesson, something I might do with friends (I really want to know how much I can teach in an hour, I sort of miss English teaching), and her English truly was terrible "How many..." was like pulling teeth and I missed the iron trap mind of my students.
On the way to the lake I found a very good milk tea stand (which helped my heart burn absolutely zero but it was very good) and a book store. At the book store I found an advanced English dictionary that had a bunch of Chinese words I have been looking for vainly like "frustrated" and "gross." The book, which in the US would have unquestionably been expensive was $1.50 (US) new, so I had to buy it, despite increasing my luggage load (ugh).
The lake was great, but mostly just big. Its hard to put it all together and appreciate its majesty although it is a nice lake. I met a very cool Chinese heritage family who lived in Canada. I also relaxed and did not care how long it took me to do things. I hope tomorrow to be the same, and then the day after to shuttle off to Shanghai where I will be for five days if I can.
Now I am in a hang out like that one in Taiwan, lots of card playing and the like. The connection in here is terrible, and I will try to find a new one tomorrow, but most importantly - it is wireless.