We were up early to get to the train station. We took the high speed train, about 302kph, to Hangzhou. A small Chinese city with a population of 9 million. It has 9 districts and 900 years ago it was the capital. There are 3 major industries. Hi-tech as it is the headquarters for Alibaba; tourism, 99 million tourists a year of which only 3 million are foreign (1 million of these are westerners); tea and silk.
Hangzhou is considered "Heaven on Earth " and Marco Polo said it was the most beautiful city he had ever see.
It is located at the southern end of the Grand Canal on the lower reaches of the Qiantang River in southeast China. The highlight is considered to be The 1,404 acre West Lake. Surrounded on 3 sides with hills and the city on the eastern shore.
We went for a boat ride on the quiet lake. The trees were blooming. There were several couples having wedding photos taken.
We went to the Longjing Tea Village. Longjing tea translates to Dragon Well tea. This is a type of pan fried green tea. We went to the tea plantation. The bushes grow up the hillside. It reminds me of vineyards along the rivers in Europe. Tee is picked 3 times a year; end of March to mid April, August and October. Spring tea is considered the best. The snow from the winter kills the bugs, only the smallest green leaves are picked and roasted in a pan with tea oil. One pound equals 36 thousand leaves. It takes 4 pounds of leaves to give you 1 pound of roasted tea. The very best is picked before April 5th. The larger tea leaves are cut up, put in teabags and exported. It was good but not as good as what we drank in Lijiang.
After linch we went to Lingyin Temple, the Temple of Inspired Seclusion, founded by Hui Li, an Indian monk, in 326. It once was home to 3000 monks, now there are 40. It was destroyed and restored at least 16 times. Current structure dates back to late Qing dynasty.
It covers an area that is very much like a park. There were many large Buddha statues.
On the way to the temple we had to walk through a cave like area and rock carvings called the Peak that Flew from Afar, named for Hui Li. He said the mountain looked exactly like one in India. There were 420 Buddhist statues carved on the surface between the 10th and 14th centuries. Now there about 380 that remain.
They were saved from the Cultural Revolution by being covered in red fabric with positive sayings about Mao.