I think we’re both starting to feel the amount of excerise and distance we are walking everyday, our muscles need a rest. So we decide to cab about today, rather then walk everywhere, the buses don’t appear to be for tourists, they don’t take cash and we cant speak the language to find out how we would use them it seem people scan in birth identity cards.
We woke up early anyways, we wanted to catch some early morning pictures of the famous longjing tea fields in the west section of Hangzhou. Taxi arrived on time and took us to the beginning of the tea plantation, or so we thought. Miles away, a up hill walk already tired legs carrying all the camera gear.
Walking past countless people trying to get your attention “longjing tea, hello” the amount of people trying to either sell you something or make you go into there establishment here is something that we both did not expect.
We luckily enough found some people from Hong Kong who spoke nearly perfect English and were haggling and confirming details to follow a local women into the mountains to view her section of the tea fields, of course for a price, you had to purchase tea from her. Me and Amanda were rather shocked when this turned out to be from her house, the anger and aggression in her voice became clear when our new friends informed them that we don’t drink tea and wouldn’t be buying any. We of course offered to pay half of whatever they had to buy, but they wouldn’t take any money. After talking with each other for a good while about locations and places in china to visit we had to go our separate ways, after this routine selfies that seem to be more of a craze here then back home. We tried a cup of what looked like spinach in the bottom, the taste was almost fishy? A strange way to describe something but it’s true, vague natural notes such as wood and how can I put it dirt came to the pallet, we were told by the rest of the group that it wasn’t the best they have tried. When I drank some of the glass it was topped straight away back up to the brim.
What can we say about the tea fields? Well it wasn’t exactly what me and Amanda expected, tea plantations mixed in with graves and tombs of various people. They did stretch for as far as the eyes could see, countless shades of green. Sections picked from various oat seasons and hundreds of yellow signs explaining the type and time to pick. It was a beautiful sight. Not exactly what we expected but I’m glad that after all the time spent wandering around we found a tea field which is accessible
We moved on to a place called Dragon Well Imperial Tea Garden for lunch and for a wander around. Countless reviews have stated how amazing the food is here. Finding It was a bit of a struggle, the road name Longjing, is used everywhere there is a character of Chinese next to the words in English which no doubt means song along the lines of North south or some variation, it took us a good hour or so walking up and down the same hill trying to find the correct fork road.
Tickets for the entrance were cheap. 20rmb for both of us which you can’t complain about. The landscaped gardens and different variations of flowers and greenery were unreal, carefully sculptured walkways and flowing rivers meandered under old teak bridges. The traditional buildings kept there character and didn’t have Starbucks or Costa coffee which seems to be the rage over here. After walking the grounds we decided to grab some food, we didn’t have breakfast due to being up out early and there is no we’re which you can buy plain bread and sandwich ingredients or cereal, or at least no we’re we can find.
No food served? After pointing to pictures of food and various snacks and such on the menu we were told that you had to purchase tea in order to be able to buy and of the other over priced food on show. As we had to take our malaria medication we didn’t mind this, until we saw the prices 125 yuan a cup. £12.50 each back home. Now me and Amanda don’t really like the tea and didn’t want to end up spending more on a cup of tea each then the whole day. So we decided against the tea and started to make our way to the exit.
Next up was Lingjin temple. A considerable distance even by taxi standards. £2.40 in English money so it wasn’t a wallet buster. Arriving your greeted with various megaphones and tour groups, people trying to sell you more tea and of course the beggars with various legs missing and disabilities on show. The Chinese walk past without any consideration or care. It seems to not both them but it’s rather unsettling for us both.
Sculptures carved into solid stone caves and mountain sides of one of the numerous protectors or worshipped idols of the Buddhist religion. It did leave you awe struck on how they managed to do it to such amazing detail and control. It was pitch black in the caves and we were not exactly sure on the rules but used our torch anyways, people seemed to welcome the chance to view the sculptures without using flash on there cameras first of all and viewing them on the screen. After paying for admission to the grounds and trying to wander in to the actual temple you had to buy another ticket in order to go into the temple. Strange but necessary. Walking in the entrance your instantly hit by people trying to flog you something, purchase these flowers to get Buddhas attention more then just incense. How about a life size replica of Buddha or one of his guardians. The ancient temple was painted Bright yellow noodle shops built into sacred grounds all that was missing was some form of cinema. It’s not how we both imagined it and we now both hope that the more traditional and rural areas that we are going to away from the tourist spots are more authentic. The monks chanting and bashing sticks wearing there puma socks and named gear under there robes made you debate the authenticity.
After walking up and down various paths uphill for what seemed like forever we got to the top for the ‘heavenly view over westlake’
Getting a taxi back seemed to be more difficult. In fact impossible to it was a long 5-6 mile walk back through crossings were green men and red lights mean go and were your in more danger of getting hit by a motorcycle on the pavement then you are in the road. We have to more days in total in hangzhou. A perfect location if there was less tourists and commercial selling. We’re off to the xixi wetlands tomorrow to hopefully get some pictures. The sky again today has been grey no variation and defiantly no blue.
My expensive Cokin filters seem to have warped in the heat. Slightly unusable now. But we will deal with that tomorrow. All in all today has been slightly less then the relaxed day we had planned. We have seen some unreal landscapes and made friends so what more could you ask for.