Hangzhou is about 200 km from Shanghai. Population: 6 million. Looking through the van’s window, the scenery outside became increasingly rural, with crops and dilapidated buildings aplenty. Ironically, painted on the side of an old building, was ‘ISO9001’.
We had Hangzhou specialities for lunch: Pork belly (fatty but sweet and delicious), fried fish in a vinegar sauce, fried bean curd…
Yue Fei’s memorial compound was huge. The Chinese people revere him even several centuries after his death. I remember studying his story in Chinese class, and how the great general was betrayed by the very people he served, as they were jealous of his achievements.
I was told by my teacher that statues were made of the traitors and perjurers, and people would kick, curse and spit at them. Sure enough, there they were, four measely-looking figures, kneeling down shamefully inside a fenced area. Facing them, the tombs of Yue Fei and his father were just a short flight of steps away.
[ Yes yes, I will upload the photos soon! ]
We took a ride on the lake, and was it chilly! The buildings and monuments around and inside the lake itself are full of legends and history. Madam Whitesnake herself was responsible for the name of the Broken Bridge(s) where her own heart was broken.
After we braved near-zero temperatures on the windy lake, we settled into a celebrated tea house which Queen Elizabeth and Mao Zedong visited, drank some premium Chinese green tea, watched a demonstration and bought a few bottles of tea. Apparently, the lighter the leaves, the finer the tea. The top grade leaves can be eaten.