This morning, several Chinese students from Wanxiang Polytechnic University took us on a campus tour. They have been accompanying us during our various visits in Hangzhou. It has been a good way to build cultural understanding of each other. Although their English is limited, it is amazing how much people can learn from each other just by sitting on the bus next to each other. The university campus is small but beautiful. The students took us to their library, classrooms, and dorms. The dorms were quite interesting to see as they were different from what we are used to at Morgan. The laundry room (one for each floor) was definitely unique. The room contained three small washers and dryers. Most things are small in China compared to the US. Some of us have to do laundry tonight, so it was important that we paid attention to the demonstration. Everything is written in Chinese so we know we will have challenges tonight.
After the campus tour, we had two short classes – a martial arts demonstration and a tea making demonstration. The martial arts demonstration was fun as we got to play with some dummy weapons after the students’ performance. Next, the tea making demonstration was simply fascinating. How hard could it be to make tea? One would expect it to be quick and simple. However, just like Chinese culture, the traditional tea making demonstration was long and beautiful to watch. The students participating in the demonstration were meticulous, from how much tea and water they poured into the cups each time, to how long they allowed the tea to seethe. Even the way they cleaned the cups was very unique. The surrounding mountains in Hangzhou are famous for their tea. As we were driven around the outside of the city, we saw many tea plantations.
This afternoon after lunch, we visited the Song Dynasty Town, which is a cultural theme park that highlights the Song Dynasty. This dynasty was one of China’s most notable dynasties (8th -11th century) and Hangzhou was its center. The theme park itself is similar to an American theme park but without the rides.
The highlight of the theme park was the cultural show that we saw in the theater. Our guide told us that it was one of the most famous, if not, the most famous show in China. The show tells the story of the Song Dynasty in a chronological order. The stage was massive with color lights in every imaginable spot. There were at least 200 performers in total. They were dressed in beautiful traditional outfits that represented every color imaginable. Red, however, was a very common color as it is considered a very lucky and auspicious color in Chinese culture. Although the entire show was performed in Chinese, we were able to follow along because of how excellent the presentation was. It was magnificent and definitely worth it.
We capped off the day with a visit to a local mall where we had pizza for dinner. Although we have enjoyed trying new things and eating Chinese cuisine for the past eight days, the delicious pizza was a welcomed treat. I guess we were just happy to eat something that represented home. Ahhh, the simple pleasures of life.