The West Lake Scenic Area
China 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.
The 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.
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
Green tea - keeps its original colour 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
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.
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
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
(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 rivalled 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.