Early Morning In Hangzhou

Awoke before dawn and stayed in bed until it was respectably early rather than stupidly early to get up. Around 5:30 a.m., I got dressed and crept downstairs to read before the hostel woke up and came to life. The sweet cafe off the lobby was dark and quiet but unlocked, so I scooped up the Siamese cat that lives here and we settled into the comfy couch next to the plate glass window that looks out on the side street the hostel occupies. The cat pooled on my lap and fell asleep while I read and watched the street slowly perk up. The occasional bike whispered by, and a few people walked past, perhaps on their way to work.


When the sky was sufficiently flushed with pink and orange, I gently shifted the cat to the sofa and went out for walk. The street cleaners were nearly my only company in the pedestrian area near the hostel. The night before, this area had been boisterous with food vendors and toy sellers and revelers, but now it's peaceful and the stone streets and buildings are glowing warmly.

Turning down another street, older men and women are standing unself-consciously on their doorsteps, performing their daily tai chi and calisthenics. In the small square next to the drum tower, two women practice a meditation around a tree, another is doing her own free-form jazzercise next to a small boombox, and two more sit on a nearby bench chatting and taking in the morning.


[Hangzhou: September 17-19, 2017.]