by Brent Gill
HANGZHOU - SHANGHAI, CHINA
September 13, 2006
Sunday, July 23 we took a boat tour on West Lake, went to a Tea Plantation, visited a Buddhist Temple, the YuQuan Campus of Zhejiang University, then on to Shanghai, our last city to visit.
The inside of the Howard Johnson Lobby in Hangzhou. The front of the lower balcony held the big welcome sign the night before when we arrived.
Our bus in front of the Howard Johnson, though that is NOT what it says on the front. But, trust me ... it WAS a HoJo!
This is one of many small boats plying the waters of West Lake, in Hangzhou. As so many spots, this was very peaceful, and beautiful.
This boat took us on a tour around West Lake. Surprisingly, it was air conditioned. Because it was quite humid, that made it much more comfortable.
A private boating tour of West Lake. This family has rented the services of this man and his small traditional boat to give them a quiet ride around the lake.
As we approached the shore, the surface of the lake was covered with these beautiful big green plants, and the delicate flowers.
The Tea Plantation. This is only a very small segment of the growing area. The hills were on all sides. As they do in much of Europe, every inch of ground is utilized.
We were served Green Tea. They also had containers on the table in front of us which they gladly filled with tea for us to take home, if we would only part with a little USD.
This rather whimsical fountain decorated the interior garden of the Tea Plantation.
Our lunch was served at the Lily Hotel. The mirrors of our bus are the big bulbous things on the right side of the picture. Our bus, and at least 8-10 others were all around the front of this hotel.
As we walked up a draw leading to the Buddhist Temple there were over 300 Buddha carvings, many right into the stone of the canyon.
In front of the main Temple, there were two fires burning in big cauldrons. The faithful light a bundle of incense, return to the steps, and bowing repeatedly with the smoking, burning incense in their hands, pay homage to Buddha.
This is the front of the main Temple. Those praying would face away from the temple at the top of these stairs.
The Buddha inside this main temple.
The front of the University. Note that it is raining quite steadily. Temperature was at least 85 degrees, so it was definitely "muggy."
As most places in China, there were many bicycles present. Note the age of these bikes. I don't remember seeing even one "new" bike anywhere.
My bride Sharon braving the elements to get a picture in front of the main Administration Building.
Sunday, July 23 – 12:20 PM
Would you believe ... we stayed in a HoJo last night. That's right ... a Howard Johnson. You won't believe the pictures of the place, though. It really is a beautiful hotel. There was even a big banner on the balcony "Welcome To The Foreign Teacher Delegation" for many of our members are teachers, or administrators.
Our meals are all provided in this tour, so breakfast is in the Hotel dining area, always buffet style, and always with one person scrambling or frying eggs. But, there are always a variety of fruits, though some are strange looking, others very normal. There are always hard-boiled eggs, various breads or rolls, and cereals. Several meats such as bacon, thin-sliced ham, and then usually some salad fixings. There are also some variety of steam-table Chinese dishes.
This morning we started out with a visit to West Lake, took a boat trip on the lake, met our busses on the other side, and headed off to the Tea Village. They grow the leaves for Green Tea here.
Many of us have seen the commercial for green tea where the old Chinese gentleman picks the smallest tea leaf, and walks off saying "Thats it" or something like that. Anyway ... that is precisely what we have just seen. We bought four cans of tea and got two "baby cans" thrown in, so are bringing some Green Tea home.
We are now headed for lunch as it is 12:21 PM Sunday or 9:21 PM Saturday where you are.
This afternoon we go to a Buddhist Temple. All the women have said that THEY aren't going in there needing to go to the bathroom. Supposedly, the ONLY bathroom facility is one common slot, for both men and women. Stay tuned. More to learn about that one!
I was amazed at the number of pictures I shot yesterday, which you have all seen I suppose. You notice that not all shots are great ones. Some are even blurry, or whatever. But, this is just the dump from my camera. With no more time than we have, I just do not have time or energy to do any editing yet. There will be plenty of time for that later.
One of the really nice things is that I am able to upload the pictures to the Kodak site, then share them with you. This gets you all a chance to see what we are seeing very quickly, and it also gives me a back-up set of pictures. Every evening I download all the pictures from my camera card, and empty it off. It will hold 216, but I have shot many more than that. Otherwise, I would have to buy another card or two. Several others on our trip have had to purchased more memory.
Lunch was at the Lily Hotel in Hangzhou. We had a great lunch served on a lazy-susan in the middle of a table of nine people.
We are now en-route to the Buddhist Temple. Following that we go to a college. We have been told by the other group that the college is very interesting. Then it will be off to Shanghai. This will be a 2:30 drive, so we will be in the room by 8:00. Dinner is in the hotel, according to Arthur.
More after the Buddhist Temple.
3:15 PM and we are leaving the parking area of the Temple. We are now on our way to the last stop in Hangzhou, the University.
The restroom situation? Never heard much about it, so suspect it was not as bad as rumored.
As we left the grounds of the Buddhist Temple, the light drizzle slowly picked up to a steady rain. Most of us got thorougly drippy or at least damp. I gave up my hat for a bandana headband simply because the perspiration or rain from my head does not roll down my face. Not the highest fashion, but effective, nonetheless, though it does not give cover.
As we left the Temple grounds, there were beggars wailing and asking for money for their abnormalities. They were especially persistent and demanding and would reach out to touch your arm if you ignored them too long.
We are being told that the tour guides at the YuQuan Campus of Zhejiang University will be students. That should be interesting.
We were ushered into a classroom where we were given a briefing by three young ladies, all students attending this school. There are over 7,000 students on this campus, six campuses all together, with over 44,000 students attending. This campus covers an area of 5,330,000 square meters. Converted to acres, that comes to just over 1,300. That would be over 1.4 miles per side, if it were perfectly square.
One young woman was studying Materials Structural Engineering, another was an accounting major.
Boy this weather is really muggy. Humidity is so high that if I wear my glasses off the bus, which is air conditioned, the glasses fog up instantly.
The traffic rules here appear to be "He who is the bravest has the right of way!" This often requires our driver to brake and let another car or bus crowd in. OK, looks like we are here.
It is now 17:41 which is of course 5:41 PM Sunday afternoon in China. That is 2:41 AM Sunday morning in California. We are on the highway on our way to Shanghai. This will be our last city in China. Tomorrow will be our last full day in this amazing country. There is to be some sightseeing, but also some shopping time tomorrow.
Tuesday we have to leave the hotel at 11:00 AM to get to Pudong Airport in time to check us all in, get things set for our 2:55 PM flight back to LAX. We are told that instead of a 12:45 flight, we have ONLY (?) 11:30. Yeah, right.
Arthur asked us how many of us would like to ride the high speed train to the airport. The price is $10 apiece, but this thing flies along at 431 KPH (Kilometers Per Hour) That translates to a mere 268 MPH! So a bunch of us are going to do that. Might as well.
I have downloaded my 115 pictures from my camera to the computer as we rode along. Sometimes I turn the camera to a more vertical format than horizontal, so to view them properly one has to turn them 90 degrees clockwise. So, I did all that, and have them all ready to upload to the Kodak site when I get to the room. It seems to take somewhere around 30-45 minutes to upload, so I have started them going, and go crawl in bed. Then, after an hour or so, I wake up, and go "share them" with all of you.
HOPEFULLY, I will be able to send this e-mail, AND the other two that are cued up waiting. In Beijing I paid $10 per day for the connection and had zero trouble with e-mail. In Suzhou and Hangzhuo it was a free connectionthough I had nothing BUT trouble. Amazingly the pictures would still go out. Seems odd to me. I suppose it is possible that the free connection has set their security levels so high that it conflicts with regular e-mail, so that the whole system works with as little problem as possible. But, we shall see in Shangai.
My battery is currently at 28% so better shut this down. We should be nearly to our break stop as we are fully 1:15 into our trip.
Brent & Sharon on the bus on our way to Shanghai from Hangzhou
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