There is nothing like starting and ending your day with a mad dash through the railway station trying to catch your train. Not a running on the platform trying to catch your train. But a full on sprint, dodging around people, leaping over luggage, taking the escalator two stairs at a time, heart pounding race to get to the train before it left. Spoiler: we made it just in time both times.
Like the day before, Jessica and I planned our day trip on the train to Hangzhou. Hangzhou is a 45 minute high speed train ride from Shanghai, or a two and a half hour car ride. It is most famous for West Lake and the islands within the lake, but really it is another beautiful city we wished we could have explored more. We were a bit disoriented from our scramble to catch the train that when we arrived we knew we had to catch the Y2 bus to our first destination.
It was not until after we got on the bus that Jessica really read the bus stations and realized we were on the bus. We had Y2 stuck in our head from the day before. Today we had wanted to get on Y3. We decided to go with the flow and the bus was headed towards a mountain, Fei Lai Feng, translated Peak Flying From Afar, so we decided it would not be too bad to see it.
One of the best mistakes we made all trip. We started off looking at the carvings of the arhats, Jessica said they are the people who have reached enlightenment. Then we started hiking up a mountain. Each time we came to a fork in the path we continued up until we reached the top, shedding our layers as it actually started getting warm. Once at the top we continued on back down until we reached the Lingyin temple. We tried going inside but were turned away because we had the wrong tickets. We went inside another temple, the Yongfu temple, which was included on our ticket but we had spent a couple hours on the mountain and there were other places we wanted to see.
While exiting the scenic we were walking along the river and there were many more carvings in the mountain side. Including the famous laughing Buddha carving, it is the oldest big belly Buddha carving in China. Well worth the mistake to see these carvings. We got on the bus again and were going to try to find the correct bus for the China National Tea Museum. On our way, we met a young man on the bus who struck up a conversation with us. Fortunately Jessica speaks Chinese and he helped us get on to the correct bus for where we wanted to go. It is my belief that a trip to China is better when you are with someone who knows the language (including reading, not just speaking). China would have been miserable for me if not for Jessica’s translating.
We sat on the side of the road near a park waiting for our bus to come. And waited and waited and then an old woman came over to chat with Jessica. Finally our bus came. We rode the bus for what felt like a very long time up a mountain until we were some of the last people on the bus. The bus dropped us off right at the front gate to the China National Tea Museum. As it turns out, there are two branches of the museum and we were at the Longjing Branch.
The museum was absolutely fascinating. It was another one of those places you could have easily spent hours in. We only saw the first few exhibits due to a time crunch: the world tea hall and the hall of tea industry brand. The World Tea Ehibition Hall showed how tea is used in cultures around the world along with history and information about areas that grow tea. But we did make time to go into their teahouse. Jessica had a white tea and I had a white peach jasmine tea. Jessica’s tea was calm whereas mine felt like a party in my mouth; it was fruity and floral and sweet and I wanted to drink it all down at once but I forced myself to sip it slowly. Naturally we had to go to the shop next door to purchase the tea we just drank.
Back to the bus stop and waiting for the bus for ages. We were also getting hungry since breakfast was a long time ago. The bus arrived to take us back down the mountain. We got off the bus and found the one restaurant near the popular lake area. After eating, we had to quickly rush to the bus. It was getting closer to our train departure and we were stuck on a bus in traffic. Naturally we freaked out. Took the bus to the subway and the subway to the train station before sprinting to our train. Luckily, we made it with enough time to spare for Jessica to get a Hangzhou travel mug.