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Hangzhou/ Shanghai, Day 14

Hangzhou, China


It was a tight day, there was a lot to squeeze in.
We started by hiking up Phoenix Mtn. and see herbs there. This was the last hike, so naturally we had to get separated as a group in order to keep with the tradition. It was a nice day out and the trail was lined with new slate tiles all the way. Robert grabbed a couple of samples to show us on the trail and later on the bus.

During lunch we all decided that while Hangzhou is a niced city, we were ready to move on to Shanghai earlier and wanted to all have a formal, final dinner together.
So we revised the schedule a bit.

Next we visited the West lake tea farm. Along the drive you could see all the tea growing on the hill side. Here we met some of the local farmers who pick the green tea leaves and pan-dry it for 8 hours each day by hand. It's an arduous task and explained why the tea is expensive to produce. Then we met "Dr. Tea" who then explained all the benefits of green tea as well as the various grades there of. He was a total salesman with animated demonstrations. The teas though, tasted nice. Of course, we had to buy some, since it is hard to find good quality tea in the US.

We then had to hurry to catch our boat ride on west lake. The day started off beautifully and continued that way while we were out on the water, the weather was perfect. The ride offered nice views of the surrounded hills which were dotted with pagodas and temples. In the distance you could see the modern city, a drastic contemporary contrast to the ancient buildings. It was a perfect snapshot of modern China.

After the lake, we had about an hour to squeeze in any last minute shopping at the promenade in town. there were lots of paintings, textiles, handcrafts and snacks to be had. So much to buy, so little time.

Then it was our last 3 hour bus ride to our final destination: Shanghai.
The city was all lit up. Shanghai is a city with the height of NYC, the width of LA and the electric light overload of LV. Our hotel was located right on the end of the "Bund," an area along the river where on one bank there are all old European colonial buildings and the other all skyscrapers made during the last 10 years. It was a great drive and a perfect introduction to the chaotic city.

We quickly checked into our hotel, which was all Art Deco and made in the 30's. Then it was nice final dinner together. We were all able to fit at one large table this time. After many toasts and thanks to one another we called it a night. it was great to wrap up the trip together this way. So much had happened in the past weeks, you could barely remember all the events. At this point, the traveling had taken a toll and most of us were exhausted. We had to prepare for the next day, check out and leave Shanghai at noon. A few brave souls walked around the Bund and checked out Shanghai's night life.


permalink written by  Benjamin Satterfield on September 28, 2005 from Hangzhou, China
from the travel blog: China Tour Fall 2005
tagged Food, China, Herbs, Medicine, Nanjing, TeaHouse, Mountain, Hangzhou, TeaFarm, Phoenix, PhoenixMountain, Herbal, Tea, Boat, BoatRide, Lake, ArtDeco and Bund

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Nanjing/ Hangzhou, Day 13

Nanjing, China


We checked out in the morning and drove over to Nanjing Pharmaceutical University where we met Dr. Chen and the director there. They took us on a brief tour of the school and a small herb museum while we waited for the herb garden to be unlocked. No pictures allowed.

While waiting a few of us wondered around campus. We saw a few thousand students dressed in military outfits yelling chants and marching around the grounds with rifles. It was strange to see such a presence at a medical school, we wondered if it had anything to do with the upcoming holiday: National Day. Sean told us that it was just a way of breaking in the new freshmen, in an attempt to convince them that school is serious and not a place to party. He thought it was a funny sight too... because the students have little to do with the military at all. Still, it was a frightening to see.

Meanwhile DJ and Patricia were on a mission to buy one of the student jumpsuits that say "Nanjing Pharmaceutical University" on it. The campus store wouldn't sell it to them and thought that something was up, because no foreigners would want such a thing. In the end they were able to trade some stuff from the US with some students there and got the jackets. We were finally able to get into the garden and Robert took us on a tour reviewing the herbs that were growing there.

We only spent a few hours there and most of it was spent wondering around the campus, which is a very different experience then that of any school in the US. Students are 4-8 in single room. Everything is cold concrete communist-style. For fun, there's ping-pong and badminton (only after marching). we then said goodbye to Dr. Chen and our local guide Sean and were off for lunch.

After that we were off for another 3-4 hour bus ride to Hangzhou. This time it was a scenic, sunny drive. We saw lots of farms and then suburban developments; building was everywhere. Along the way was an awesome new rest-stop. We were able to stock up in water and some comforts of home (well, they had Lay's chips.. even if they were cucumber flavor or Italian meat-sauce flavored). We got a kick outta that place. Then it was back on the bus.

We arrived in Hangzhou in the evening. Before checking in at the hotel, we met our local guide Jerry and went to visit a silk factory. It was pretty cool to see how all these tiny filaments are spun into thread and then spooled into what looks like cob webs. It's quite strong when massed together. The guide showed us the way to determine whether silk is pure or not: you burn it.... Umm, OK. If it's white smoke, it's real, black it's not. Good luck trying that one at Macy's. Naturally, there was a silk store next to the factory which had anything silk you could want. Some people bought some bedding, but most of us just wanted to checkin and pass out.



permalink written by  Benjamin Satterfield on September 27, 2005 from Nanjing, China
from the travel blog: China Tour Fall 2005
tagged Food, China, Herbs, Medicine, Nanjing, TeaHouse, TCM, Doctor, Hangzhou, TeaFarm, NationalDay, University, NanjingPharmaceuticalUniversity, Silk, SilkFactory and Clothes

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