Retreat to Ningbo

In late February, I was informed I would have to travel to Shanghai and Ningbo for work. The work trip would end on a Friday in Ningbo. When Jun learned of this, he got excited. His mom had been staying in the Ningbo area for the last year. With the pandemic occurring, he hadn’t been able to see her during that time. Now, here was an opportunity for him to visit her. We decided we would take this opportunity and spend a long weekend in Ningbo; we each took the following Monday off so we could have a three-day weekend.

Day 1

Technically for me, this was the fourth day of my trip away from Shenzhen. But at the end of the workday on Friday I shifted from work to fun. After I finished everything with work, I took the metro to Dongmenkou and walked to the Westin hotel. After check-in, I went up to the room and caught up with some school work before venturing out to get something quick to eat. After dinner, I continued to work on school work and waited for Jun to arrive. He planned to fly into Ningbo late that night and then take a taxi to the hotel. When he arrived, I met him in the lobby as he completed the guest registration process. By the time we got into the room, it was late, and Jun wanted to shower and go to bed.

Day 2

Our first full day in Ningbo as tourists started with us going down to have breakfast. Then we waited until Jun’s mom and her friends arrived so we could go and venture around the city.

When they arrived, Jun and his mom caught up for a bit. Then we went to first visit Yonggengku Ruins Park and the Drum Tower. The surrounding area is a pedestrian shopping area. After walking around a bit we continued to our main destination of Yuehu Park.

The park was gorgeous in the early spring weather. The trees were blossoming, and the air was nice and cool. Everything had that new green aura that left you feeling refreshed. Inside the park are a variety of smaller gardens that offer something slightly different to explore and enjoy.

We took our time meandering through the park until we started to get hungry. Jun found a local restaurant nearby and we decided to have lunch there. It seemed we weren’t the only ones who had that thought. There was a long wait for a table. We decided we would wait and not too long later we were seated at our table and had a tasty lunch.

Jun’s mom and her friends wanted to rest after lunch, so we left them near the restaurant and walked around the park a bit more. After exploring the park, we soon went back and caught up with Jun’s mom and her friends and continued to walk around the park.

Our next destination was Tianyige, which was just off the park. Tianyige is the oldest existing library in China. It is a combination of library and gardens, which Fan Qin founded in 1561 during the Ming dynasty. Today, it is a historic site open to visitors. Jun and I went around the park on our own; Jun’s mom and her friends were a bit tired from all the walking.

It was quite beautiful inside Tianyige. There was a serene atmosphere pervading the gardens and different halls. There was even an exhibition on mahjong that was fascinating. That had some ornate sets from different eras and parts of the world.

Soon, Jun and I left the library and gardens to find his mom. We found that everyone was ready to continue our exploration of the city. During the walk, Jun’s mom informed him that she wanted to spend the night and spend one more day with him. Jun and I decided to go back to the hotel to rest while Jun’s mom and friends booked a room at a different hotel.

We later met for dinner at a restaurant nearby our hotel. Again, we found it was quite popular and we had to wait a bit. It ended up being a smart choice since the food was amazing there. It was so good that Jun’s mom insisted we go back the next night and have dinner there again.

After dinner, Jun, his mom, and I went for a walk along the river in Ningbo’s Old Bund. At night it’s a bar street, but the buildings are quite beautiful, and it was fun to walk around the area. I mostly just enjoyed the walk as Jun and his mom talked.

Later we walked Jun’s mom back to her hotel. Then we went back to ours and called it a day.

Day 3

After breakfast, Jun and I walked to his mom’s hotel to meet up with her. First, we went with her to get some breakfast and then took a Didi to visit Dongqian Lake. We started our trip by walking along Xiaoputuo, a causeway along the center of the lake. It was a nice walk. We got to see peach blossoms, and visited some temples, and just enjoyed the spring weather.

We continued our walk along the eastern shore of the lake and ended up at a café where we had some tea and rested our feet.

From there we walked around the Mashan Wetland and visited Hanling Village. It wasn’t the right time to visit the wetlands as everything was still dormant for winter. In some spots, though, you could see life coming back to vibrancy.

The village, however, was interesting. The main street was full of people that it was a bit uncomfortable to try to maneuver around the area. The side streets, though, had fewer people and were more enjoyable to traverse. At the end of our visit to the village, Jun and I decided to treat ourselves to ice cream as we waited for the Didi to come and take us back to downtown Ningbo.

By the time we got back to our hotel, it was dinner time. We went back to the same restaurant, met up with Jun’s mom’s friend, again had to wait for a table, and enjoyed having a wonderful meal. After dinner, Jun’s mom had to leave, and she said her goodbyes to us.

Day 4

Our last day in Ningbo before having to go back to work in Shenzhen. After breakfast, Jun and I checked out and left our luggage at the hotel. Then we walked to Tianfeng Park to see the tower there. On the walk, we got to see some of the European influence in the city’s architecture. When we arrived at Tianfeng Park, we were impressed with the tower and how tall it was. The steps going up were quite steep but did offer nice views of the surrounding area. From there, Jun and I decided to get lunch and then visit Nantang Old Street.

I visited Nantang a few years back while I was there for work. It was one of the few tourist sites in Ningbo I had visited before this trip. The street is mainly a food street. Jun ended up buying some Ningbo rice cakes to take back with us.

By then it was getting close to mid-afternoon and we had to head back to the hotel to get our things and go to the airport.

Everything went smoothly on our trip back to Shenzhen. Overall, Jun and I enjoyed our trip to Ningbo. Jun was particularly happy he got to see his mom. We both agreed it was a nice break from work and the routine.