Hangzhou has an absolutely stunning area called ‘West Lake’. The surrounding countryside is forested and lush and we spent 4 days wandering around the maze of paths alongside the water.
Sunsets and sunrises are particularly epic here. The lake was originally part of the Qiantang river but over the years the sediments that built up around the mountains created a lagoon that would eventually be engineered into the lake that is there today, there are five causeways that criss cross the lake with humped bridges so that you can view the beauty from optimum places, and of course to be generally pretty and adhere to feng shui. They got it so right!
This time of year (July/August) is particularly epic as it’s rainy season so massive storm clouds build on the horizon which the light of the sunset illuminate.
This is the viewing pagoda that overlooks the lake, we thought it looked better in shot.
Lots of cameramen come here to get the good shots over the lake.
The local people use the pathways around the lake to run and cycle and there is a massive tourist industry here so the pathways are always bustling and busy. Including this absolute hero who rode his unicycle up and down the Su Causeway with Chinese pop music blasting out with him singing along.
It’s a nice atmosphere to walk around the lake in the evening, and there are some beautiful gardens.
We took the bus out from the lake to the China National Tea Museum, this place is really interesting but we would say that. A really amazing look at the history of tea, as China is the indigenous home of the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis. The surrounding hills are full of tea plants so it’s nice and relaxing even though all that greenery makes the atmosphere very humid and the time that we were there was just before a big typhoon so the air was very close!!
Some of our friends that we know through Sophie had their designs in the tea museum, that was pretty amazing to see, in fact we’ve been noticing their designs for the company called Nongfu everywhere in China.
They had a replica tea rolling machine that they used before the times of machinery!
We took a short bus ride to Longjing village in the mountains to the west of West Lake. This was one of the best things that we did in China, it’s one of our favourite teas and one of the most popular in China. Longjing means dragon well and the tea is named after the village.
We ambled down the valley and one particular old lady was very persistent in asking us if we wanted some tea. We had to have some in the place that it’s named after and we were glad that we picked this lady as she led us up through the main town and into a maze of back streets, out to the outskirts amongst the tea plants and we sat on her courtyard watching the sun set over the lush green valley, drinking tea that was picked 10ft away.
She was obviously a good salesperson as a lot of Asian people are so we came away with a box of the stuff! It was proper Longjing and she gave us 7 brews each, of the two varieties that we tried, for our £2. What a memory! Pete even had a basic chat with her in Chinese although she was flattering him a bit 🙂