Be the last!
Tea Planatations have good sales women. They will entice you to buy tea leaves.
If you are on a group tour, be the last to buy anything becos they will come out with gimmicks that if you top up your purchase, we will give you a smaller bottle.
I ride on my fellow tour group mate to be able to purchase RMB230 for a big cans of tea leaves with a 50g thrown in. Others will have to buy 3 cans to be entitled to 1 can (50g).
To Buy or Not to Buy Tea
If you use a group tour for Hangzhou, most likely you will end your trip at a "tea village". My wife and I call these last stops "Chinese version of Disney World", where after a day of sightseeing (or in WDW's case, a ride), they deposit you at a gift shop.
Unless you're a superb tea snob/expert, I would recommend saving your money and get tea elsewhere. Don't feel obligated to buy.
In our group we had 3 ladies from Hong Kong, a family of three from Taiwan, and my wife, my kid, and I from US. There was also a lady from Chicago. After the tea sales pitch, the sales person just sat there waiting for someone to buy tea. The Chicago lady bought some, but no one else did. We sat there in uncomfortable silence for several more minutes until we were "let go".
Be strong! Don't give into the sales pitch if you don't want to buy!
Unique Suggestions: Be strong. Know beforehand if you want to buy or not. Don't give into the sales pitch. Unless you're a superb tea snob/expert, you really cannot tell the difference between this tea and other high end teas elsewhere where you can buy them cheaper (and without such idiotic sales pressure). And, while there, enjoy the free tea! :)
Fun Alternatives: Still visit the tea villages. The scenary is great. But, avoid the sales pitch if you can.
- Food and Dining
The Yuefei Mu
The Yuefei Mu is one of those important Chinese attractions that leaves foriegners scratching their heads. I understand that the general, Yuefei Mu, may have an important place in Modern Chinese history but the tomb and attached temple are quite unremarkable after you have had seen so many of them as I had at this point in my travels through China.
Yuefei Mu was a 12th century Chinese general who had defeated invading barbarians. The ruling emperor was jealous of his victories and accused him of treason. He had Yuefei executed. A subsequent emperor had Yuefei remains removed and treated with more deserving honours. Hence this tomb complex was built on the shores of this beautiful lake.
Unique Suggestions: The tomb and temple do have a nice setting against the lake and with quite lovely pinetrees covering the grounds. Still the architecture is rather ordinary.
- Historical Travel
Some hills around the Lake produce the best green tea in the world. A good place to enjoy tea is Long Jing( the Gragon Well). Especially during the spring time, to take a cup of Long Jing tea with Yiying plotty and Hupao spring water, sitting in front of the green hills is a great pleasure. However, when walking up to the destination, you will be agreeted by a lot of local "tea-ers", who claim they have nice self-produced tea. Don't believe them. That will be fake. Buy tea at shops with an authorised sign.
Unique Suggestions: Sometimes, you cannot get rid of these sellers unless you buy some tea from them. Then, barging with the price and buy as little as possible.
Book your train early
Despite being told otherwise, you should always pre-book train tickets, especially when travelling to Hangzhou during the West Lake Expo. If you don't you may end up missing out on a precious Soft Seat ticket on your chosen train. Instead you could be stuck with a Hard Seat ticket on a train which is leaving 2 hours later. If this does occur, I could strongly recommend that you have a good look for luggage lockers to store your increasingly heavy packs for the few hours wait. If you can't find any luggage lockers, you'll probably end up lugging around said pack through the back streets of South Shanghai for 3 hours. You will probably be quite the spectacle!
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