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Day 20 Hangzhou

June 22, 2011
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June 15, 2011 (Wednesday)

Twentieth day in China, fifth day in Hangzhou: 六和塔 Six Harmonies Pagoda, 郭庄 Guo’s Villa, 中国茶叶博物馆 Chinese National Tea Museum, 龙井问茶 “Ask for Tea in Longjing”

Ate noodles in a shop by the 鼓楼 Drum Tower and a 玉米饼 sweet corn cake. Rode the bus to the 钱塘江大桥 Qiantangjiang Bridge on the Qiantang River. The bridge looks like a long rectangular cage, with an upper deck for cars and lower for trains. Built 1934-1937, destroyed Dec. 1937 by the Japanese. Rebuilt 1953. ( I walked a flooded narrow footpath into the woods, passed a man in a business suit carrying his shoes. Climbed Liuheta, or “Six Harmonies Pagoda”, 1000-year-old brick & wood structure with 12 floors. On each floor was an interior room surrounded by a stone corridor filled with wall paintings. Narrow passages containing black brick carvings led to the outer wooden corridor, last renovated about 100 years ago, and fitted with large windows looking down on the trees of 大华山 Dahua and 虎跑山 Hupao mountains, the bidge, the river, and the modern buildings of south Hangzhou. The river was brown, thick with flotsam and misty in the rain.

I bussed to Guo’s Villa and saw craggy rocks, circular doors in stone walls, ornate wooden windows and views of the lake. Walked the bidges of an old pilgrim’s path to Yinglin over the ponds and into the mountains toward Longjing and visited the Chinese National Tea Museum, where I learned about tea’s origin as wild tea trees in what’re now Yunnan and Sichuan, and it’s progress over several thousand years to become a favorite beverage all over the world. The staff invited me upstairs to drink tea, where I got to try Longjing green tea, jasmine tea, black tea, and ginseng oolong tea (strangely sweet). I walked the tea fields outside the museum, by the hills, and an old road, mostly flooded, along a gushing creek stuffed with water greens. “Ask for Tea in Longjing” is a famous saying in Hangzhou. In the 18th Century, the Qianlong Emperor 乾隆帝 (grandson of Kangxi 康熙) visited Longjing four times, and left 32 inscriptions in various calligraphic styles. I saw the inscriptions and took the bus back to Hangzhou in heavy rain.

I returned to the restaurant from my first night to eat 混沌 wonton, where I met fellow travelers Mick, from Holland, and Emma, from England. We drank in a bar by Wushan Square and shared our experiences in travel and life.


PS: Still trying to find a way to upload photos. Got behind, but will post a new entry every day until caught up!

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