Sunday, March 24, 2013

Tea House and more!

This is the tea my tea teacher gave me! Notice how big the leaves are. It is the best tea I have ever had. It is from 安徽 Province, and has a light flavor, not bitter and not sweet. Sorry my description is so basic... The bad news is my teacher told me it was an expensive variety, the good news was I re-seeped the leaves 7 times and until the end the flavor was pretty consistent. When my teacher and I go to a tea store, I'll see if I can find some more, or maybe something similar. It's really good! You should all try it if I manage to locate some :)

So on Wednesday my activity was to go to a tea house! At long last, an excuse. 

The tea house is the largest in Hangzhou, people come here to talk, play cards, eat, do business and relax. As usual, I also had to interview people, so I made my way around different tables. 

The food.


At long last! I try the famed 龙井茶! Notice the slender smooth leaves. This is right when I got my tea, so the leaves are all still at the top. As they become more saturated, they sink. You add more hot water at your discretion- there is pot kept heated over a small flame by all the tables. 

Oh! About the flavor- sort of bitter and very strong, which is probably because I got the cheapest (but still expensive) variety. 

Some one else's tea. A lot of the women at the tea house preferred to drink flower teas, and the guys to drink green tea.

My view!

I noticed the typo while at the tea house.

One of the reasons people prefer to come to 青藤 tea house is because it's located right next to the lake! So I went for a stroll after my leisurely afternoon (leisurely other than the interview part of course)

Then I ventured into a McDonalds to take this picture for you guys. McDonalds here are "high quality" and offer things that look like Starbucks should have.

On Friday I went urban hiking and walked past a bookstore. So I went inside, spent way too long, but look what I found! 

Running to the lake yesterday, I took a new route which I like better. The view is gorgeous for pretty much the entire run!

Also found while "hiking" some delicious snacks. I noticed a lot of people were crowded around a booth, so I approached and asked one of the customers what their favorite flavor was, and they offered to let me try the kind they were buying, reassured me that this was an excellent price, at which point the vender noticed me and gave me a slice to try. It is very good, and next time I'll try more flavors, I think I was too flustered to think to try more at the time. 

Back to running views!

So many instant noodles!

I made soup! It's questionable, but I'm soaking some beans for the next round. Notice I used our "kettle"- we are finally using it for its intended purpose!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What have I been up to?

OK, so I haven't been up to that much- mostly homework, running, playing erhu and complaining about how much work we have. So the usual :) 

On Wednesday I needed to venture to 龙井村(longjingcun)which is about 2 hours by bus, and requires a bus change. Of course it was pouring rain and rather cold when I set off after lunch. So I bundled up like the rain lover I am.

A map of my intended route!

So I made it! 

As I perused this sign, I was swiftly surrounded by older ladies asking me if I wanted to buy tea/come to their houses and drink tea. Some of them were assuaged by me saying no thank you, but some of them were more persistent. I have yet to try this famed tea because I'm too wary of being cheated, but I hope when the new harvest comes out I'll go get some. 

Here is the town's exercise equipment! These are all over the place, but this is the first one I took a picture of :P

In the park/historic site, well worth the 5 kuai of admission.

So on the way back I didn't have any spare change/I wanted to see what the countryside looked like, so I walked back to where I needed to change buses. 

I also ran into this memorial hall for heroes who died in the 1911 revolution. It was a serene place, and the first memorial hall I've seen, so it was a surprise to walk past it on the way back to the bus stop.

On Friday we decided to trek to a western style restaurant, which necessitated a bus ride, during which we met an older woman with the best English I have ever heard a Chinese person speak. She had studied English at Beijing Foreign studies university,  and then taught English at Zhejiang University. We all exchanged numbers so maybe we'll see more of her.

On Saturday I took the bus to the West Lake so I could run around it and then run back, and I saw this:

At the lake.

A house with a tree growing from its roof

People drying clothing

Later that afternoon we ventured back to the lake to see a famous pagoda. Of course it started raining, even though that was not in the forecast: )

From the top

Me trying to pose since all the other Chinese visitors were

On the way back to the bus stop we walked along the lake

A pretty clearing

Cats! Doing...

Street food!

Today I went to my Chinese tea research teachers house with Maia my teachers 1-on-1 student, but first we got foot massages, which was great, especially since one of my legs has been acting up, presumably since I spend forever sitting down in my customary leaning against everything position for many hours. I know, I should just stop, but I default to that position. Anyways, after the foot massage, my teacher made us food! 

Her she is, with her husband and their 6 month old baby boy!

Picking us up from the bus stop

His 100 day picture, which he loves: whenever he sees it he gets super excited and smiley.

Unexpectedly, her husbands parents came back from their ancestral home (they had returned to pick tea leaves) so we got to meet them briefly. We were invited back any time, so hopefully there will be more cute baby photos in the future!

So much food for two people! My teacher and her husband didn't eat, I suspect because they would have preferred to eat meat dishes too :P 

And now I need to do a lot of reading, so I hope this finds everyone well!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tea Museum and more Mexican Restaurant!

For my Hangzhou research class this week, one of my assignments was to go to a tea museum and interview visitors and the staff. Unfortunately getting to the museum required about 100 minutes of public transportation and 2 bus switches, but my roommate came with, so things couldn't go too wrong.  Luckily people seem more willing to be interviewed in Hangzhou, so I got some good answers (if all pretty much what I expected to hear) to some questions about their tea drinking habits and the number of people who visit the museum. Some visit highlights:

In case we don't know how to drink tea.. 

So gorgeous! Hopefully next weekend/soon I'll come back to this area and bring a book. 

I'm at the museum!

Oh! By the way my roommate is not featured in my pics because she had a bad haircutting experience, so now her bangs are not level. I mean, I think it looks fine, but she is waiting for them to grow out more before being featured in any photos. 

Friday morning, before my weekly 10am test, I decided to run to the east lake. The weather was spectacular. The area I ran to had more wild life than previously. But I had to run along some main roads for awhile, during which I encountered signs such as this! (at least there are some nice looking flowers too :) And a traffic cop standing on a pedestal in the middle of the intersection! But my picture of that wasn't too good, so it isn't featured here)

So beautiful!!


I can't help it

not many tourists yet!

On the search for my favorite oatmeal

We went to Mexican restaurant!! It turned out to be rather good- I got a burrito, though a little pricey, ~6 american dollars compared to the 1 I usually spend on a meal.

We stopped by a bookstore- where I found a surprisingly large amount of books translated from English- I didn't get any, maybe next time. Also, bookstores appear to be a more casual atmosphere than most American ones- kids sleeping on the floor, people reading with snacks from outside in the bookstore, but there were books, so I loved it even more.

Older people learning to roller skate, unicycle and dance! Every weekend when I go running in this area I see them.

East lake today- calm waters

with willow

I had solo ventured to the east lake after our mexican food adventure, where I wandered around the lake while reading. When it started getting dark I decided to head back, but after waiting for buses back to campus and seeing that they were all packed, I decided to try the subway. Which was also packed, but slightly less so. Picture below- notice that the tv screen is airing footage of adorable kittens/guinea pig interaction. This is common during busy hours, and I really like this. It's hard to be annoyed about how many people there are when such adorableness is around.

Last but not least, after 2 months of loosing change from my wallets coin area hole, I finally borrowed a  sewing kit and got to work. My years sewing together leather things for my dad finally came in handy. 

Ahhh I'm sure more has happened, but I forget.. I coded a motion tracking opencv thing because I was feeling rusty. I should probably do a cs related project weekly, I plan to, but we'll see how my resolve holds up in the face of increasingly breathtaking weather.