Friday, August 30, 2019

A trip to China - Day 9 - West Lake, gardens, a cruise, and lunch

Next is our visit to the West Lake and surrounding gardens

It's about to get busy, with a number of activities planned, and the warmth of the day is starting to make an impact.

The tour starts in the car park about a kilometre away, but the moment we left the car park we were getting a taste of the park walking along a tree-lined avenue.

When we cross the road, once again dicing with death with the silent assassins on motor scooters.

We are in the park proper, and it is magnificent, with flowers, mostly at the start hydrangeas and then any number of other trees and shrubs, some carved into other flower shapes like a lotus.

Then there was the lake and the backdrop of bridges and walkways.


And if you can tune out the background white noise the place would be great for serenity and relaxation.

That, in fact, was how the boat ride panned out, about half an hour or more gliding across the lake in an almost silent boat, by an open window, with the air and the majestic scenery.

No, not that boat, which would be gre3at to have lunch on while cruising, but the boat below:

Not quite in the same class, but all the same, very easy to tune out and soak it in.

It was peaceful, amazingly quiet, on a summery day

A pagoda in the hazy distance, an island we were about to circumnavigate.

We did get a story about a woman who was a snake, a monk, and a man who married the woman, but the details in between were a little hazy.  Suffice to say it had relevance to the two pagodas on the far side of the lake.

There was a cafe or restaurant on the island, but that was not our lunch destination.

Nor were the buildings further along from where we disembarked.

All in all the whole cruise took about 45 minutes and was an interesting break from the hectic nature of the tour.

Oh yes, and the boat captain had postcards for sale.  We didn’t buy any.


At the disembarkation point there was a mall that sold souvenirs and had a few ‘fast food’ shops, and a KFC, not exactly what we came to China for, but it seemed like the only place in town a food cautious Australian could eat at.

And when tried to get in the door, that's where at least 3 busloads were, if they were not in the local Starbucks.  Apparently, these were the places of first choice wherever we went.

The chicken supply by the time we got to the head of the line amounted to pieces at 22.5 RMB a piece and nuggets.  Everything else had run out, and for me, there were only 5 pieces left.  Good thing there were chips.

And Starbucks with coffee and cheesecake.

At least the setting for what could have been a picnic lunch was idyllic.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A trip to China - Day 9 - Meijiawu Tea Village (Longjing Tea Plantation)

Tea House at Meijiawu Tea Village

So, first, we get to look at the tea bushes, which are much larger than the bushes we've seen on the side of the road.  I'm not up for becoming a tea picker any time soon, so I'll leave it to the professionals.

All tea leaves are picked by women.  It takes about 8 hours to pick two kilos of leaves.

Tea leaves are still picked by hand three times a year, the first spring, by young girls about 15 or 16, the second, summer tea, picked by girls about 20 years old, and the autumn tea, called grandma tea, picked by older women.

Next, we go to the drying demonstration, three tubs with tea leaves, that have to be stirred by hand for a number of hours.

We then get the sales pitch, which extols the benefits of the green tea, which apparently good for everything.  So, now we have tea and supplement pills.

The teapot fountain in the gardens is a nice touch.

Still, we had a cup or two of tea discovered the right way to make it and had a stroll about the grounds.  And for that hour in the morning, it was very pleasant.

A trip to China - Day 9 - Of course, we have to get breakfast and leave the hotel

Day 9 - We are going to the Longjing Tea Plantation and West lake, but first...

The brochure says: Hangzhou is considered the tea capital of China, so a visit to the city just isn’t complete without a trip to a local tea house. Make a special visit to the Tea House at Meijiawu Tea Village located at the hinterland of West Lake Park which is considered one of the most important Longjing Tea productions in China. Enjoy the natural environment and beautiful village scenery while learning more about their special tea culture. At the Tea House, learn how to make the Longjing Tea including picking, frying and tasting the tea leaves. Then enjoy a small boat ride on the West Lake another UNESCO World Heritage Site, which reveals the ethereal beauty of Hangzhou's willow draped islands.

This morning starts off with a bang.

Yes, the question on everybody's lips, how do you fit 200 people into a room clearly designed to fit fifty comfortably?

The answer; pure mayhem, and a lot if people missing out on breakfast, or at the very least trying to eat in the awkwardest of positions, balancing on edges of chairs or just standing at the bar.
This is a zero out of ten for the tour company.

Seven plus tours all leaving at the same time and no possible way of fitting them in.  Good for the hotel if they charged you for breakfast, because at various times there was nothing to eat, and definitely no milk for coffee, of you could get coffee.

Still, it is what it is.


We all pile into the bus and have to wait for the other seven to move off.  In the end, we reverse into the traffic and get underway.  I'm not sure what the other buses were going to do.

But, getting under the way is not quite as it might appear to be.  8:00 in the morning means peak hour traffic, and here peak hour traffic takes on a whole new meaning.

Four or five lanes completely full and at a standstill, and the odd daredevil thinking he can change lanes.  Oh, my mistake it can be done.  It just takes a little longer.