Hangzhou China- October 11, 2014

I have mentioned that the parks are a central part of Chinese life. Today we went to Westlake park. The lake covers three square miles and is filled with lotus, surrounded by paths and weeping willows, it is considered one of the most beautiful spots in China. It has inspired many artists. It was once the seat of the Song Dynasty, and it was loved by Mao. We walked along the paths, took a boat ride and walked more. Everywhere there are older couples enjoying a picnic lunch, groups of women chatting and men playing Chinese checkers. The houses are are so small that people leave them for the parks everyday that they can. The government has provided many parks.

The next stop was a tea village. The village is a cooperative that grows one of the best green teas in China. Curious about the taste… No worries, I now have a lifetime supply. This tea was the favorite of the Emperors. The best picking comes in the early spring, the autumn produced a little lower grade of tea. Tea is dried and sorted by grade. Green tea was shipped to England and the tea fermented along the way creating a very different flavor. Green tea and Jasmine tea are the favorites of the Chinese. In jasmine tea the flowers add taste to a lower grade of tea. Some of the farmers have converted their house into dining rooms for tourists.

In the afternoon we visited a kiln to learn the historic methods of firing celadon. The doors were locked after we entered, the majority of the employees were cleaning to prepare for the visit of the governor the next day. Celadon is a very thick glaze that is baked at a very high temperature, causing it to crackle.

The next stop was aChinese pharmacy and Doctors office to learn about traditional Chinese medicine. Many people still use the traditional form of medicine, acupressure, acupuncture, and herbs. Our tour guide’s Mother is a heart surgeon and her family still uses the traditional medicine for chronic illnesses and western for acute illness.

Our guide is a very interesting person. Her parents were both in the military so the Grandmother raised her. During the cultural revolution her father was imprisoned and her mother was sent out in the country to be a country doctor.

We returned to our rooms, packed, placed the luggage outside the door. Many of us retuned to West Lake for a show that was written and produced by the creator of the opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics. He has produced several movies including, I believe, Hidden Dragon,Crouching Tiger. The entire production took place on the lake. The stages are submerged during the day and elevated at night. The actors must wear costumes made of a waterproof material, and boots with good grips on the bottom because they still slosh thru water that is about one inch deep on the many platforms that form the stage. The story is based on the WhiteSnake woman, the snake was substituted with a crane to make it more visible. The lighting was very dramatic, the entire story was fantastic.

One of the writer, directors of the play was found to have three children, he violated the one child policy and was given an astronomical fine in the millions. One of our local guides family was also guilty of breaking this law and the father was fined 7% of his salary for several years.






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