Tuesday, January 28, 2014

we head to Hangzhou

The guide book says that Marco Polo extolled the city as the world's most beautiful and magnificent city. And it is very very green. And teeming with tourists from all over China.  We take a high speed train from Shanghai and are there in 90 minutes or so.  We arrive on Friday and meet our guide Wilson.  He insists that we go to the tea growing village immediately because the weekend there are extremely crowded with city dwellers who escape the city to spend time there.  So off we go... We stop for lunch at a local restaurant run by a family Wilson knows- we have a nice meal overlooking the tea growing village and the hillsides of tea plants...

after a lecture about tea growing and harvesting we are treated to tea tasting and sales pitch that we fall for (we came home with three kinds of teas all supposedly to help us get health and slim! LOL)

after that we head to check into our hotel where we again have superb accommodations - and we have dinner there at a beautiful restaurant - where Larry wins the ordering roulette and has some fabulous pork belly thing that is to die for... I develop a stuffy nose during dinner and start drinking massive amounts of tea hoping to ward off a cold... early to bed - with the same thought in mind...

the view from our lunch table-

the beautiful tea plantation where we did our tasting-

our fabulous hotel rooms over look wonderful gardens or the pool-

the grounds of the Four Seasons West Lake are stunning! our room overlooks the pool- below

a walk around the grounds shows some of the lovely landscape-

the pool has an unusual design - kind of above ground level- and it sits in a fountain....

there is a spa on site- and the stair down to it is a work of art in itself---

the next morning we are off to the temples and pagodas- the day is rainy but that doesn't seem to discourage the crowds- we would have done better to plan this city as a mid week trip rather than ending up here on the weekend...but alas - who knew????

by the end of this foray out to the temples/pagodas my cold has overtaken me and I ask to be dropped at the hotel before the boys continue on for their West Lake touring-

Wilson suggests we do lunch first because the boat ride on the West Lake would be nicer if the weather cleared up - so I go along to lunch and order soup- which was perfect- the boys have duck and other goodies but I am so under the weather I take no further photos to help me remember the meal.

The three of them get dropped off by the boats and the driver takes me about five minutes more - to the hotel where I go to bed and sleep for more than sixteen hours- we are traveling back to Hong Kong tomorrow and I hope to get this handled by drinking massive quantities of tea (located in the mini bar/coffee area of the room) and lots of sleep.  The boys go out to dinner at a place with nothing but Chinese on the menu and have a terrific meal (per their later report) but I stay back in the room and sleep more...

the next day we fly (more than an hour late - LOL) to Hong Kong - and arrive around 6 PM- we take separate cabs to our hotels which are near each other but not the same- we have booked a room on Amex points at the Intercontinental Hong Kong which is in Kowloon and overlooks Hong Kong - we have been upgraded from our already swanky room - to a massive room on the top floor--- with views to die for.

Larry comes over because we have booked a farewell/birthday meal at the fancy Chinese restaurant at the hotel which is award winning Michelin star etc... we have a lovely meal as an end to a wonderful trip... my cold seems to be somewhat under control so the evening is very enjoyable... the wait person overhears us discussing dessert and it being Larry's birthday so they bring us a special birthday treat that is treasured by Chinese - a dumpling thingie that defies description- so I will just post the photo... it is steamed and has sweet sticky something (maybe mincemeat) in the center- one for each of us.... LOL

so it is off to bed for all of us-we have a late morning flight back to Chicago and Larry has an early morning high speed ferry to Macao- we know we will see each other in about eight weeks or so for Christmas when Steve and Suzanne come to visit Florida... meanwhile we have had a terrific trip and discovered a lot more of China that is off the beaten tourist path for westerners... loads of fun!

I did not get over that cold for several weeks- it was so bad that I went to the doctor about it, thinking I had contracted some dread Asian variety of cold virus.  But when I got to the waiting room at the doctor's office I found out everyone in Chicago had the same cold I did - must have all been to China too! LOL

I may have a few additional thoughts on the trip to post later but for now this is  the last post from the trip. And not a moment too soon since Georgia and I are headed to Morocco in two weeks -  oh and YES, I do have a big birthday coming up as well.... turning the big 5-0 LOL -  not!!!! I just feel like that...

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