Touring Around Hangzhou, China: Lingyin Temple, Dragon Well Tea and The Medicine King

Not a great day for sightseeing (dreary and raining) but what can one do. Mao Mao picked us up early for a hectic day with much to see. First up was Soul Retreat Temple (Lingyin Temple)…View image…, built in 326 AD. This is one of the best known Buddhist monasteries in China with magnificent muntains and trees around. A very scenic spot even if it has been destroyed and restored at least 16 times. Mao Mao said that the big incense sticks are usually the cause of fires in the Temples and warned us not to get set ablaze ourselves. Incense sticks waving everywhere…

The Victoria Regal Hotel loaned us umbrellas, and an early start got us to Lingyin Si Temple by 9:00 am, ahead of the main tourist crush. Approximately 10,000 people visit daily and 1,000,000 on May 1. Do not expect to have this temple to yourself.

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big incense sticks in China, Lingyin Temple, Hangzhou, China

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devotions at Lingyin Si Temple, Hangzhou, China

I was visually struck by the setting of Feilai Feng, “Peak Flying From Afar,” where over 340 Buddhist sculptures were carved into grottoes. …View image… With greenery everywhere, the grey limestone sculptures, and a light rain falling, it was incredibly beautiful. The Buddhist sculptures date from the 10-14th centuries and there were trails leading to the top of the cliff and around the area, but the steps were treacherously slippery because of the rain and moss. The Camphor Wood trees were blossoming and there was a heavenly odor whenever you walked by one. A striking beginning to Lingyin Temple.

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Peak Flying From Afar sculpture at Lingyin Si Temple, Hangzhou, China

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leading horse on pilgrimage at Lingyin Si Temple, Hangzhou, China

The main temple had a Buddha made from 24 individual pieces of camphor wood. It is the most important statue here and is also the largest wooden sitting Buddha in China. No photographs allowed inside the main hall…

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gold-gilded Sakyamuni at  Lingyin Si Temple, Hangzhou, China

Lingyin Si also had a 500 arhats (saints or sages)/ancestors hall, but here the individual monks were made from copper and each weighed one ton! It’s actually in the Guiness Book of Records for the total weight, whatever the total is.

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copper statues in Ancestors Hall,  Lingyin Si Temple, Hangzhou, China

A few kilometers away was Plum Blossom Tea Village/Longjing Village, a major Green Tea growing area. All Hangzhou tourists come here too, and the big tour buses were lined up outside the tea tasting showrooms. We’ve visited tea showrooms in Malaysia, Yunnan Province, India and many other countries but thought a video and information about tea-growing would interest you… The short version of Green Tea: the newly picked leaves have the most anti-oxidants for health and is never exported (only older, dried tea leaves); tea leaves only stay “fresh” for 18 months; Longjing is considered the best quality tea grown in China; and you must drink lots of Green Tea for any benefit. We sniffed…the fresh tea leaves smell a little like spinach… tasted…thanked them and left…

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tea terraces around Hangzhou, China

Two more stops. A 40-minute boat ride on West Lake…we were underwhelmed with the sights as seen from the boat…View image…and back into Hangzhou proper to the 1874 Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum, still operating and dispensing traditional Chinese medicine. Huqingyu Tang Chinese Medicine Museum…View image…is the only museum of its kind in China. It is housed in a historical building which was once the most famous Chinese herbal medicine shop in Hangzhou. The exhibition hall tells about the origin, development and applications of traditional Chinese medicine. This early pharmacologist was known as the “Medicine King” (watch video below…)


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medicine cabinets in Chinese Medicine Museum, Hangzhou, China

Done with the major “must sees” in Hangzhou, a short rest, dinner and walked over to the night market held from 6-11p daily. I had read that the stalls had “fascinating collectables.” Not so. Instead, miss this one and visit the daytime only “antique market” if you have the time. By the time we got there, all the stalls were closing. Walk down the street towards the Drum Tower to find it.

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