The West Lake Scenic Area
West Lake Scenic AreaChina has a rapidly developing tourist industry. Efforts are made to identify any area that may be even remotely appealing and designate it a "scenic area". Often places that could stand on their own are "improved" with colorful names, local legends or newly placed sculptures lending each place a slightly carnival attraction quality.

Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang province and its political, economic and cultural center. With its famous natural beauty and cultural heritages, Hangzhou is one of China's most important tourist venues. The City, the southern terminus of the Grand Canal, is located on the lower reaches of the Qiantang River in southeast China, a superior position in the Yangtze Delta and only 180 kilometers from Shanghai. Hangzhou has a subtropical monsoon type climate with four quite distinct seasons. However, it is neither too hot in summer nor too cold in winter making it a year round destination.

West Lake Scenic AreaWest Lake Scenic AreaWest Lake Scenic AreaThe West Lake is undoubtedly the most renowned feature of Hangzhou, noted for the scenic beauty that blends naturally with many famous historical and cultural sites. In this scenic area are Solitary Hill, the Mausoleum of General Yue Fei, the Six Harmonies Pagoda and the Ling Yin Temple are probably the most frequently visited attractions. The West Lake Scenic Area Covers an area of 60 square kilometers, out of which the West Lake occupies 5.6 square kilometers with 3.3 kilometers from north to south and 2.8 kilometers from west to east. The lake has a circumference of 15 kilometers. It is surrounded by hills on tree sides and faces the downtown area on one side. The charming lake is a pearl that lay by the city. There are two brocade-ribbon-like causeways inside the lake, namely Bai Causeway and Su causeway, and they divide the lake into five parts. Three man-make islands named Three Pools Mirroring the moon, Mid-lake Pavilion and Mr. Ruan T Yuan's Mount stand elegantly in the outer lake.

Tea Tasting
Tea TastingTea Tasting"All the tea in China" is a statement most of us have heard at one time or another designating something with limitless quantities. Of the three major beverages of the world-- tea, coffee and cocoa-- tea is consumed by the largest number of people. Interestingly all three contain caffeine. Tea and China are synonymous, and it is thought that human cultivation of tea plants dates back at least two thousand years. Tea from China, along with her silk and porcelain, began to be known the world over more than a thousand years ago and has since always been an important Chinese export. At present more than forty countries in the world grow tea with Asian countries producing 90% of the world's total output. All tea trees in other countries have their origin directly or indirectly in China. The word for tea leaves or tea as a drink in many countries are derivatives from the Chinese character "cha." The Russians call it "cha'i", which sounds like "chaye" (tea leaves) as it is pronounced in northern China, and the English word "tea" sounds similar to the pronunciation of its counterpart in Xiamen (Amoy). The habit of tea drinking spread to Japan in the 6th century, but it was not introduced to Europe and America till the 17th and 18th centuries.

Chinese tea may be classified into five categories according to the different methods by which it is processed:

Tea TastingGreen tea - keeps its original color of the tea leaves without fermentation during processing.

Black tea - also known as "red tea" (hong cha) in China, is the category which is fermented before baking; it is a later variety developed on the basis of the green tea.

Wulong tea - represents a variety half way between green and black teas, being made after partial fermentation.

Compressed tea - is compressed and hardened into a certain shape. It is good for transport and storage and is mainly supplied to the ethnic minorities living in the border areas of the country. Most of the compressed tea is in the form of bricks; it is, therefore, generally called "brick tea", though it is sometimes also in the form of cakes and bowls.

Scented tea - is made by mixing fragrant flowers in the tea leaves in the course of processing. The flowers commonly used for this purpose are jasmine and magnolia among others.

Silk Factory
Silk FactoryChinese legend tells how silk was discovered almost 5,000 years ago by Xiling Shi, the wife of the emperor Huanghi. Walking in the garden, the empress plucked a cocoon from a mulberry tree. The cocoon fell by accident into her cup of tea and she watched as a strong white thread unraveled. However it was discovered, the potential for such a thread was first realized in China, where silk fabric was being produced by 3000 B.C. A silk industry had developed there by the 14thcentury B.C.

The Silk Road, a trade route which involved many cultures and stretched from Nagasaki, Japan in the east to Genoa, Italy in the west, opened by 100 B.C. As its name implies, the major product being traded from east to west was silk, the manufacture of which the Chinese kept a closely-guarded secret on punishment of death. Other peoples in central and western Asia learned how to spin and weave the threads, but only the Chinese could supply the raw materials.

Silk FactorySilk FactoryThis situation altered in the fifth century A.D., when a Chinese princess married the king of Khotan, an oasis north of the Plain of Tibet. When the princess left her native land and traveled west to her bridegroom, she carried, smuggled in her headdress, silkworm cocoons and the seeds of the mulberry tree on which they feed.

Silk spread even further west by similar ploys. In 552 A.D., Persian Christians visiting Khotan hid silkworm cocoons in their hollow walking sticks, subsequently delivering the means of silk cultivation to Justinian I of Byzantium. Though this story is the stuff of legends the fact remains that silk production began in the Byzantine Empire at that time. From the sixth to the thirteenth century, the silk brocades of Constantinople were highly sought.

Silk FactorySericulture (the craft of producing silk and its cloth), gradually spread through western Asia and Europe. By the 15th century, France and Italy were the leading manufacturers of silk in Europe. Due to religious persecution, large groups of skilled Flemish and French weavers fled to England, and an industrial complex for silk weaving developed at Spitalfields in the 1620's. By the mid eighteenth century there were 2,200 master weavers employing over 30,000 workers in London. London's silks were so famous they rivaled the older industries in Lyons and Genoa. It was important to protect the London silk weaving industry so the Government banned all imports of silken materials. Principal markets for the Spitalfield silks were exports to America, and the supply of robes to the Church and Royalty. In 1835, cotton factories in Lancashire, Yorkshire and Scotland started weaving silk by machine. The increase in production was enormous. It led to an immediate reduction in quality, but a cheapening in price of the finished products. The traditional Spitalfields silk weavers could not compete with machine production and by 1910, ninety five percent of the skilled workers had been forced out of employment. The last record of silk weaving in East London was of four silk weavers in Fournier Street in 1930.

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