Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hiking Near the Tea Fields

Lately in Hangzhou the weather has been quite warm, reaching the high 50s and low 60s during the peak of the day. It was colder before and I think it's going to get back down to the 30s and 40s later, but for right now, the weather has been great. When I was living in Chicago, we'd get about 5 days all year with weather this nice, so I figured I should take advantage of the sun and warmth while I can. One of my Chinese friends named Master knew about a hike that takes you around the tea fields and ends up at a university's campus in Hangzhou, so last weekend we went. It was a relatively short hike, but it was cool because I had never seen the tea fields so close. What I think was most interesting about the tea fields is that they're grown on the hillside on terraces, which made them look pretty cool. Apparently Hangzhou's climate is very favorable for green tea leaves, which is why the Longjing tea is one of the best in China. Because it never gets too cold in Hangzhou, my friend said they are able to harvest the tea leaves twice a year. It surprised me, though, how much like a normal bush or shrub the tea plants looked. I honestly could see the tea plants being in someone's front yard in American suburbia. But then again, my eye is very untrained in horticulture and I am probably dead wrong. Here are some of views we saw:
Tea Fields
View From Above
Besides the tea fields, we were also able to see some of the surrounding hills of Hangzhou. Hangzhou definitely has some of the best nature of the mid-size Chinese cities. By mid-sized, of course I mean about 6.7 million people in the total urban area (although that number is a bit hazy depending on how they measure it). By China's standards, though, that is not even in the top 20 largest cities. The hike we went on is only a 30-45 minute bus ride away, so most of the hills, gardens, etc. are very accessible from the city. While there are not what I'd consider mountains in Hangzhou, it's still nice to be able to do some hiking.
Hills Near Hangzhou
Hills Near Hangzhou
As you can see from the pictures, many things are still green during the winter, although a lot of the trees have lost their leaves. I'm not sure if it was a foggy day or if that is pollution floating around, but Hangzhou normally has pretty good air quality. After we finished the hike, we got some excellent lunch at the university campus, then walked to the big river just outside of Hangzhou. The river connects eventually with the ocean and my friend said that every year, due to some natural occurrences with the ocean tide, the current of the river reverses and a huge wave goes down the river. Everybody gathers to watch it and somebody always gets injured watching at some of the places closer to the ocean where the wave is biggest. I'm pretty curious to check it out.
The River
There were also a lot of people fishing in the river. Each person would have anywhere from 5-20 fishing poles placed just a few feet apart. Mostly the guys seemed to just be sitting around and I have a hard time believing that they catch many fish from that river. They must, otherwise they wouldn't fish there. The water definitely doesn't seem too clean, though. I hope that's not the fish I am eating at the street vendors here in Hangzhou. They have these fish grilled on kebab sticks with this spicy seasoning that is so good. I suppose sometimes you have to sacrifice dubious cleanliness for delicious street food.
Fishing in this River?
It's always nice to see some new areas around Hangzhou and there are still a lot more places I haven't seen. Come spring time I'll have to see as much as I can before it's 95 degrees and extremely humid. By that time I'll turn back into sweaty foreigner mode and will be confined to A/C controlled buildings. (By the way, being an extremely intelligent person with a computer engineering degree, I just noticed there is this feature that allows me to make my pictures "Large" instead of "Medium". Who woulda thunk it? Surely this is the bleeding edge of technology. It only took me around 20 blog posts to figure this out. D'oh! By increasing my photo size, this should boost the effectiveness of my blog in conveying information to the public at large by at least 57%.)


Phil Dawsey said...

I think you just like to call him Master... You should advise him to change his Americanized name. I do feel like I may even have gleaned 58% more from this blog post due to the larger photographs. It is a great day for the blog reading public.

实事求是 said...

This is great!I think you are good at writing too,by the way, nice pictures!