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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Around HangZhou

Like said, in husband's opinion, only West Lake is worth going. Furthermore, we didn't have too much time in HangZhou cause we would need to fly back to HKG on the next day. So, he didn't plan to go to any other places but West Lake. 

But in my brother's opinion, since we were here, we should go to other places for a quick look, though there are nothing too special about those places. Well, he is right. Thus, we just followed his plan for the day. 

After taking buffet breakfast buffet in the hotel, we hired a taxi to go to our 1st destination. Before departure, we had told the driver in advance, that we intended to hire him for the whole day, cause we knew it's not easy to halt a taxi some where in middle. 

The 1st stop for the day is a tea plantation, located in LongJing Village (龍井村), where the place is being developed and the tourist number is boosting. 

LongJing ( 龍井, literally means "Dragon Well"). According to the legend, the Dragon Well was discovered in 230 AD. This fresh spring water encouraged the HangZhou people to grow and develop their own quality tea, and thus, LongJing Tea was born.

LongJing Tea is one the top list of the 10 most famous green teas in China, and so does its selling price. 

The taxi driver told us the local people won't drink LongJing Tea because it's too pricey. When they buy LongJing Tea, normally it's not for their own consumption but to give it away as a gift to please their boss or elderly. And that's also one of the reasons why the price of the tea has been pushed to the higher end. 

This is fairly understandable in view of how Chinese people place importance on their own 'face'. 

The dominant thing here is of course the tea, in the form of drinking, picking, smelling or buying. 

We are not tea lover, so this place is not a very interesting place to us. 

Unless the boys were allowed to pick the leaves and sell it for profit, else those plants are just some ordinary leaves to them.

Probably because we went to the plantation on our own, no one came forward to greet or make introduction to us. So, we just stopped by to have a look over here and there, then left the place.

One of the common scene in LongJing Village.

Again, my brother has been to this village before. Thus, he asked the driver to drove us into town center and look for a tea house for tea drinking. Apparently, this is one of popular activities in the village.

We asked the driver to drop us in a good tea house. And he dropped us here. 

When we walked inside the shop, a friendly woman came out to greet and lead us to the roof top, the place for guests to drink tea. 

Standing on her roof top, we could get to see everywhere is tea plantation.

The fresh leaves...

and the leaves after stir-frying.

After we were seated, the woman simply throw a punch of LongJing leaves into a pot, then pour hot water inside it. This is out of my expectation, cause I thought she would has brew the tea nicely, in the traditional and proper way, like we used to see from a movie.  

Sitting at this open air roof top area was not a pleasant one. Due to the hot sun shinning so brightly above our head, we could barely open up our eyes.

Anyway, since we were here, we cheered one another with the green tea.

Probably the woman had put too many leaves into the pot, the taste of the green tea is too bitter for our liking.

Seriously, I think the woman had done it sucks.

End up, we didn't manage to finish the whole glass of tea that the woman had poured for us.

When we walked down stairs, as usual, we need to give some 'face' to the shop keeper. So we pretended to check for the price etc. When the woman told us the tea was sold in RMB 2800 per 500g. We said no immediately.

Immediately, the woman's face had turned to black color. She asked us to pay her RMB 200 for the tea we have drunk. Shark! She really thought we are the 'water fish'. 

After some negotiation, my brother had managed to cut the price in half, and he paid her RMB 100. We left the shop in black face too.

After we got out from that shop, brother pointed to those tea houses located on the other side and said he went to one of the shops before, the service and tea was much better than this one.

Well, I guess the taxi driver had made a wrong recommendation too.

Besides LongJing Tea, HangZhou is also well know for producing excellent silks, including satins. 

Since my brother wanted to buy some silk blanket, we have the purpose to visit the silk store.

Brother intended to go to a Silk Museum which is less tourist oriented, but the taxi driver said we should checked out a store which he said is quite popular to the tourists too.

Although we think the store for tourists generally is more expensive, we agreed to stop by for a look. 

This Tiancan silk store is quite a big one, displaying a wide variety of pure silk fabrics, garments, handicraft articles, scarves, ties, etc.

The silk lingerie looks nice, but the price is very expensive for my liking. Anyway, I'm not familiar with the market price of silk, so it's hard for me to say it is a reasonable price or not.

Brother had checked the price for the silk blanket too. He said it's more expensive than what his friend had told him. So, he didn't buy any from this store.

When we got back to the taxi, brother asked the driver to drive us to the silk museum. But he told us there isn't any silk products for selling in the museum, not in his knowledge. Anyway, we'd decided to give it a try.

The driver dropped us in the front entrance of the museum. Then he said he got to leave us here, cause he needed to take his daughter to the zoo. Sigh, what could we say and do, but just to pay him and let him go.

So, here we are, walking into the China Silk Museum....

Except for the arts museum, other museum is seldom in the list when husband plans for a vacation. If not because of my brother was with us this time, we won't be to this silk museum.

Since the museum is talking about silkworm, it's less boring to the kids.

Again, we looked here and there, nothing too special.

This place is 100X more quiet than the outside world. Guess not many people like visiting museum as we do.

Some of the display in that museum....

The life cycle of a silkworm is pretty much like a butterfly. The worm undergoes a metamorphosis that consists of 4 stages : egg, larva, chrysalis (pupa) and imago (moth). 

Silkworm is very useful little creature...for they can be used in producing edible and non edible products.

they contribute even in the facial mask...amazing. 

The writing of Confucius and Chinese tradition recount that in the 27th century BCE, a silkworm's cocoon fell into the tea cup of the empress, LeiZu. Wishing to extract it from her drink, the young girl of 14 began to unroll the thread of the cocoon. 

She then had the idea to weave it. Having observed the life of a silkworm on the recommendation of her husband, the Yellow Emperor, she began to instruct her entourage the art of raising silkworm.

From this point on, the girl became the goddess of silk in Chinese mythology. 

A large piece of raw silk was put on the table, for free touching and feeling...

Very soft & light.

A corner where the kids could sit down for coloring.

Silk thread wrapped in gold, expensive thread.

Embroidery, made by gold silk thread, must be very expensive.

Double sided silk embroidery, on which the images look exactly the same on both sides. Special ways are used in knitting instead of knotting. Therefore, the ends of silk threads are invisible. It is knitted in the right angle without piercing the other side. Both sides will present the same seamless effect. 

On this side, we can get to see orange fishes (at the top) and black fishes (at the bottom)....

But on the other side, there are only orange fishes. The 3 black fishes had become orange fishes. 

Another piece of double sided silk embroidery...

Wonder how long does one take to complete such a fine embroidery like this?

The next hall is a place where numerous kind of silk-knitting looms are on displayed.

It's pretty impressive to see how the ancient people could think of inventing these loom to weave the cloth.

Although the shape of the loom and its mechanics may vary, the basic function is the same. 

Some looms are so big that my living room can't fit it in.

So much for the looms, we left the museum after 30 min later.

Saw many beautiful flowers right when we walked outside.

Flowers didn't capture the attention of the boys, but this gigantic colorful fly did. Since its size is 20x bigger than the normal house fly, Vincent suspected it has mutated, haha...

Still, flowers are my cup of tea.

A small Chinese garden is there, in the museum's compound.

The more they called the duck to go near them, the further it swam away.

A part of the garden.

Right before the exit, there is a mulberry tree, age 150 years already. 

Alright, back to square one.

We wanted to go back to West Lake, but couldn't halt any taxi. So, we just got to walk while keep trying our luck. 

We didn't know how long do we need to walk to West lake, but at this point of time, we envy the people who ride on the bicycle. 

We walked and we walked and we walked, for 20 min, but there wasn't any taxi available for us...

It was quite hot on that day. Luckily, we walked under the shade for most of the time, that made things bearable. 

Then, brother had spotted a sign board to point us to walk this way to the West Lake. 

Another beautiful cherry blossom. Looking at those flowers had made my heart blossom too.

We got to walk through this garden to the lake side. 

The trees, the flowers, the colors, the bridge had made a perfect picture.

Forgot what he was pretending at that time...

but lately, he has asked me to enroll him into Karate class. He thought knowing some martial arts are cool.  

10 minutes later, we had walked back to the main street...

From here, it won't be too hard and too far to go to West Lake.

Thus, we didn't bother to halt a taxi anymore, though here, there are many taxi. Hey, it's your loss.

Just walked on this street for a while, had made my head kind of spinning. This city has too many people and too many cars.


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