Our first trip was to Hangzhou, and it was probably my favorite city to visit. Not only was the hotel great quality, but the sites we visited were reflective of Hangzhou’s significance and they offered beautiful views of city. We first stopped by Hangzhou’s popular West Lake and took a boat ride through a portion of the lake. Besides the 95 degree with high humidity weather, it was a very pleasant ride. We were able to get a clear view of all the street shops and events that took place along the river, and there were many foreigners in attendance. Some boat rides included a large table in the middle where you can enjoy drinking tea—mostly green tea. It seemed like a very pleasant way to spend your summer afternoon chatting with your friends or family while drinking tea.
(Group photo in front of the West Lake)
(View from the boat ride)
Speaking of green tea, our next destination was the Dragon Well Tea Garden, where they produce China’s finest green tea leaves. Unfortunately the green tea “doctor” —what they call the experts— was not available, so another expert gave us a quick tour of how they warm up the leaves and package it for sell. There are different sorts of green tea leaves, each differing in quality and the number of times you can re-use them for drinking purposes. One thing I noticed about China is that everyone drinks green tea, even during meals. All the restaurants I’ve been to served green tea instead of plain water, and I honestly prefer drinking green tea before, during, and after meals. It’s perfect for detox and helps digest food, especially Chinese food which typically contains a lot of salt, sodium, and MSG. It’s also supposed to have multiple health benefits, such as clearer skin and improved eye sight if you allow the steam into your eyes/skin. With all the great benefits AND taste, I can see why drinking green tea is so common in China.
(At the Dragon Well Tea Garden)
(Classmates receiving the “green tea eye treatment”)
The last stop for the day was at the Liefeng Pagoda and it was my personal favorite. This is where the famous Chinese love story of the white snake is based on. Although it was a long way up to reach the top, it was worth it. The view was amazing— I found myself staring out into the scenery for at least 15 minutes, just admiring the beautiful view of Hangzhou.
The following day, we visited the Lingyin Temple—Hangzhou’s most famous temple. It was actually my first time visiting a Buddhist temple so it was a pretty neat experience, especially since it was founded in 328 AD. There were multiple levels that consisted of even larger statues, and people would pay their respects by bowing while holding incense sticks.
Overall, Hangzhou did not disappoint!