By davidc

Bamboo Boat Trip on the Li River

Another full, fun day.
We started this morning with a pre-breakfast Tai Chi class, where we were taught the 10 basic moves. When I say we were "taught", the teacher (who was great) showed us the moves and we did our best to do them over and over again, but whether I'll ever remember them remains to be seen! However he did go through them again at the end, giving us the chance to take a video on our phones, so that may help.
After breakfast we went for a ride on the beautiful Li River on bamboo boats (3 to a boat) - see the main blip. The views were lovely, and we saw a variety of wildlife including egrets and water buffalo. The first extra is a water buffalo and her calf.
We had a peaceful 2 hours for lunch then set off to a tea plantation, where we were given the task of picking tea, after a very brief instruction on the technique. The best quality tea comes from the tiny leaves at the tips (second extra) and one has to avoid using ones fingernails for the purpose as apparently this damages the stems. We now have a much higher respect than before for professional tea pickers - after about 40 minutes we'd each only picked a small quantity. However when all seven of us on this outing had pooled our produce there was enough for them to show us how to dry and process the leaves into green tea (red, black and white tea takes longer to process). We were then given a tea tasting of about 5 varieties of tea, which all seem to need water at a slightly different temperature for best results.
The views of the mountains at the tea plantation were splendid, but on the way back to town we stopped at Xianggong Mountain Visitor Centre. The climb up 400 steps was certainly worth it for the fine views over the nearby river and mountains in the hazy evening light (3rd extra). To add to our entertainment there, there was a bride & groom having their photos taken in their wedding clothes - and at the end they wanted a photo taken with them surrounded by all of us "aliens"! It's not the first time we've been asked to join in selfies taken by locals - westerners still seem to be relative rarity in parts of China, especially in rural areas. (We learnt that wedding photos here are usually taken some weeks before the wedding so that they can be shown at the wedding itself.)
Tomorrow we're off on a bike ride along another river, followed by another evening show, so if we're late back from that I may have to backblip. However it seems it'll be my 2,000th blip so I'll try not to be late with it.

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