09.11.2012 67 °F
It's a warm, misty day in Hangzhow.
I'll say this for the tour company - they sure pick hotels with wonderful breakfasts. I make a point to try everything typical to China - which leads to some interesting breakfasts.
Green bean congee
Pumpkin slices, cooked
Purple yam, cooked
Pancake pieces, sliced
Tea boiled egg
All accompanied by coffee & watermelon juice
Not sure I always enjoy my choices but I didn't come here to eat western food.
This morning was spent at a tea plantation, Dragon Well Tea Village (Longjing Wencha) & we spent about an hour being instructed by a tea master. Discard the image of the Japanese tea ceremony. This was more like visiting a winery & experiencing some of the nuances of a varietal. Most interesting. I think I made a mistake by not buying some of the tea but I was so annoyed at the high pressure sales that I wouldn't stay in the room. I did learn later than this is the only place where I could purchase the tea. Oh well, live and learn.
Later - This area is so tropical. As I write this, we're on the bus for the 3 hr drive to Shanghai; the air is so heavy - you feel wet. One of the guides said the Yangtze river delta gets approximately 280 days of rain per year.
Lunch was at the small tea plantation village. We had the usual foods of sticky rice, fried rice, pork, bok choy, beans and this restaurant added baby duck soup. I'm becoming resonably proficent using chop sticks - with my left hand, no less.
Meals are served with water, sprite, pepsi or beer. I always order the beer - it's light & refreshing. And I'm becoming addicted to watermelon juice.
All our meals are served dim sum - food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions.
Back to the tour...after lunch we drove a short distance to Lingyin Temple (Lingyin Si). The temple dates to 326 AD. The main attraction on the way to the temple is a limestone cliff, called Feilai Feng (Peak That Flew from Afar), so named because it resembles a holy mountain in India seemingly transported to China. The peak contains four caves and about 380 Buddhist rock carvings. The most famous carving is of a Laughing Buddha from the year A.D. 1000.
Truthfully, the entrance was a bit like an amusement park - shops, vendors, 1,000's of people and the ever-present Starbucks.
The present temple buildings go back decades rather than centuries. The main Daxiong Baodian (Great Hall) contains a gigantic statue of Buddha carved in 1956 from 24 sections of camphor and gilded with nearly 3,000 grams (106 oz.) of gold -- the largest sitting Buddha in China, and not a bad modern re-creation.
After stopping at the Hangzhou Exhibition Hall, it was back to the 3 hour ride to Shanghai.
Arriving at night; the city lights are spectacular (after arriving home, Philip mentioned he saw the latest James Bond movie - some of the scenes are Shanghai at night & he said they scenes were fantastic.) This was the night of the foot massage. I wasn't so sure I wanted to do this as I was warned it could be painful and I'm nervous about my back and right leg. Then I thought "what the heck, I'm going to be having back surgery soon - how much worse can it get?" It was WONDERFUL. This spa used reflexology, which stimulates acupressure points on the foot. We sat on reclining long chairs and spend an hour getting our feet, legs, arm & neck treated to a thoroughassage. I practically floated to the hotel.
The rain stopped and the night was lovely - our guides were considerate enough to give us a little extra time to go out to the bridge and take pictures. Given our guides had longer days than we did; I appreciated their consideration.