Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, China, Hangzhou, Travel, Travelzoo

Green Tea, West Lake & Outback ???

Terraced tea fields near Hangzhou.

The grounds of Dragon Well Tea Plantation.

Terraced tea fields near Hangzhou.

Hooray, it’s our last day of the guided tour before we arrive in Shanghai this evening. We start the day at Dragon Well Tea Plantation on the outskirts of Hangzhou. It’s a cool, damp morning and the mist hangs thick over the terraced tea fields. It’s a beautiful glimpse into an older, more rural China, away from the sprawling metropolises we’ve been spending a lot of our time in.

Lotus Lake

We tour the grounds and then head into a tasting room where we learn all of the detoxifying benefits of green tea, while leaves steep in cups in front of us. We finish our tea, and Ray and I sneak away across the road to frolic in the terraced fields.

West Lake pagoda.

West Lake.

From here, we head to our last group lunch, which is one of the better ones of the trip. We then head to West Lake, where we spend a damp and cool afternoon walking a small section of the 50 acres this park occupies. The lake is dotted with bridges, temples and pagodas, and despite being the off-season, it’s crowded with locals and tourists alike.

West Lake.

Despite being busy, there’s still a sense of peacefulness and I picture what the lake may look like on a spring or summer day, when filled with bright green lotus plants. We have a couple of hours to explore, so I wander off and watch house boats make their trips around the lake and then I stop to listen to a street musician playing guitar.

We reconvene at the bus at 2:30 and begin the almost 3 hour drive to Shanghai. I’m associating Shanghai with freedom, but learn that we won’t be going directly to the hotel. There’s an optional performance tonight, ERA- The Intersection of Time, Shanghai’s equivalent of Cirque de Soleil. The plan is to go straight to the show. If you don’t opt in for the show, well, you can just wait on the others who do.

I ask Michael if we can make our own way to the hotel, but no, he will need to be there to check us in. So there goes one free night in Shanghai. Katherine and Warren decide to opt in for the show, and Ray and I decide to grab a bite and then look for somewhere to get a foot massage. There’s a small shopping center near the show venue, and we agree on a western meal at Outback. Ray and I indulge in overpriced steaks and red wine. We then head over to the spa for a foot massage, only to find out the spa is under construction. We decide to tell Katherine and Warren we had the best foot massage EVER, as we’re sure we will hear ERA is the BEST show they have ever seen.

We all reconvene after the show, head to the hotel and have a nightcap, toasting to the end of our guided tour… and the full free day we have in Shanghai tomorrow.


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