We started the day at the Lingyin Temple, the main feature is a 64.3 ft-high camphor-wood carved Buddha. The gardens are beautiful and the temples are brightly painted with intricate carvings. It is a working temple with monks who take care of the grounds. In one of the temples there is an incredible carving that reaches from the floor to the ceiling, 50 feet high. People visiting the Temple light large sticks of incense from fire pots and hold them as they pray. It was quite the experience.
Next we traveled to West Lake and had lunch at a traditional Chinese restaurant next to the lake. After lunch we took a cruise on West Lake in a brightly painted long boat to look at the jewel-like pagodas. In all parts of China you will see the importance of balance, the Yin and the Yang. There is a pagoda on each side of the lake to ensure balance. It is a very pretty area and is replicated in several other locations in China, including the Summer Palace.
Our next stop was the Dragon Well Green Tea Plantation. It is in beautiful hill country surrounded by terraces for the tea bushes. It was a nice change from the hustle of the city. Tea is very important to the Chinese and it is integrated into every part of their lives. Red lanterns in the area identified which buildings were tea houses. All the tea at the plantation is dried 8 hours by hand. The tea is very expensive because of the time it takes to harvest and dry. It is considered the best green tea available.
Next we headed to Shanghai, a 2 1/2 hour trip and we will stay at the well known Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park Hotel. It is identified by blue lights on the sides of the very tall structure and the bottom floors are a shopping mall, complete with a Starbucks. Yet another opportunity to shop!
Tomorrow we start the day with a business meeting presented by a foreign business owner in China. Then we are off to see the Yu Garden, a maze of marvelous pavilions, ponds, rocky works and over arching trees. We then stop at the Shanghai Silk Rug Factory and then we are on to the Bund, a famous waterfront park. We finish the afternoon at a very large market where all the specialties in China are sold. That evening we end the day with the amazing Era Show.
Tips if you go:
Internet–I have experienced a lot of problems with connectivity. The hotels generally have WIFI in the lobbies but it has not been easy to get on. Patience is a virtue. You can find WIFI at some of the Starbuck’s and the airport but you need a mobile Chinese telephone number so the internet provider can text you the password.
Food–The food is good so go with an open mind and be willing to try new things. It’s an important part of the experience.