8 Day Tai Chi Studying Tour and Cooking Class in Hangzhou
- During this tour you’ll be immersed in traditional Chinese culture. You’ll have a lengthy study of Tai Chi, one of the major Chinese martial arts, study Traditional Chinese medicine and music, while also trying your hand at Chinese cooking and brush painting (calligraphy)
- When Marco Polo came to Hangzhou in the 13th century, he declared it to be “the most beautiful and elegant city in the world". There is a popular saying: "Above there is heaven, below there are Hangzhou and Suzhou." Hangzhou's "heavenly" beauty attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to its exquisite West Lake (Xi Hu) area each year to enjoy the placid lake, beautiful gardens, reflecting pools, lavish temples and lakeside teahouses.
- Pay a visit to the water township of Wuzhen, and take a cruise through the city’s canals, seeing the daily lives of the inhabitants and the remains of the town’s ancient history as you go by.
(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
Day 1 arrive in Hangzhou (D)
By either train or plane, you will arrive in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province. Located in east China, Hangzhou is one of the more modern and prosperous cities in China, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of Shanghai. It sits at the southern end of the Grand Canal and is one of China's seven ancient national capitals. Hangzhou's "heavenly" beauty attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to its exquisite West Lake (Xi Hu) area each year to enjoy the placid lake, beautiful gardens, reflecting pools, lavish temples and lakeside teahouses.
Upon arrival, you will be met by your English-speaking guide, who will then take you to your home stay in the city center. Accompanied by your hosts, we’ll take a leisurely walk around the community, where you’ll get a primer on the history of the area. Your hosts have graciously prepared you a welcoming dinner. So eat up!
Day 2 Hangzhou (B, L)
Following breakfast at your homestay, you will take a lesson in Tai Chi, which will be taught by a professional instructor. Tai Chi is a sophisticated method of fighting based on the reconciliation of dynamically interacting forces. Daily practice of Tai Chi promotes mental clarity and a healthy body, assists with balance and helps the circulation of the blood. Tai Chi is also a vehicle for the realization of surpassing beauty. Following your lesson and lunch, we’ll pay a visit to a kindergarten to see how Chinese children learn and play. It will be interesting to compare and contrast the different educational methods used in this school and in the one of your youth.
After our kindergarten visit we’ll take a tour of a Traditional Medicine hospital and museum. The Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the only state-level professional Chinese medicine museum in China. The museum is housed in the restored ancient structure-Hu Qing Yu Tang, meaning that it is also known as Hu Qing Yu Tang Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Hu Qing Yu Tang was a Chinese pharmacy which began business in 1874. It had won a great fame during its development. People regarded it as the 'King of Medicine' in southern China. Hu Xueyan, the first boss of the pharmacy, was not only a successful businessman but also a high-class official in the imperial court. In China's feudal society, people doing business were widely looked down upon whereas state officials were highly respected. Many tourists are attracted to the Hu Qing Yu Tang Museum to not only appreciate the treasures of Chinese medicine, but also to admire its magnificent architectural complexities and to learn more about Hu's legendary stories.
The museum consists of five parts: the Exhibition Hall, the Medicine Preparation Hall, the Chinese Health Care Clinic, the Restaurant of Medicinal Diet and the Sales Department. The Exhibition Hall introduces the development of Chinese medicine, including its origin, the life of well-known doctors in its long history, famous books of medical science and China's medicine exchange with foreign countries, etc. In the Medicine Preparation Hall, the museum's staff also performs the arts of traditional pharmaceutics. If you are interested, you can even try it yourself. In the Chinese Health Care Clinic, you have the opportunity to receive Chinese-style health care served by experienced doctors. The Restaurant of Medicinal Diet provides visitors with numerous medicinal diets which are good for human health. The Sales Department sells Chinese medicine from almost all parts of China.
The rest of the day can be spent at your discretion.
Day 3 Hangzhou (B, L)
After an early morning breakfast and Tai Chi lesson, we’ll head on over to the Dujinsheng Silk and Brocade Museum, otherwise known as the National Silk Museum. The museum is in an appropriate location, as this region of the country is China’s historical center for silk production. The museum is a showcase for the origination, evolution, variety of silk and the evolution of the Silk Road with its social implications and influences. The museum is divided into different halls with different functions. The Evolution History Hall displays photos and various silk antiques that reflect the 5000 years’ evolution and the advanced technology; the Silkworm and Mulberry Hall gave you some insight into the mysterious process of silkworm raising and silk making; the Dying and Weaving Hall composed of various buildings with strong ethnical features holding various dying and weaving devices like looms on which you can try your hands at it if interested. The Modern Accomplishment Hall showcased the accomplishments and technological breakthroughs in the silk production and trade.
Following lunch we’ll head on over to Lingyin Temple, one of the ten most famous ancient Buddhist temples in China. It also houses various Buddhist literature and treasures situated in front of the Temple, and is famous for its more than 470 stone carvings of Buddhist figures, which dated from the 10th to 14th centuries.
Afterwards, the rest of the evening can be spent at your leisure.
Day 4 Hangzhou-Wuzhou-Hangzhou (B, L)
Today you’re in for a real treat, as we will be visiting the famed water township of Wuzhen. After breakfast in the hotel we will make the drive to the town of Wuzhen. Wuzhen is one of China’s ancient water towns, where waterways thread their way through the flagstone streets and alleys. Wuzhen in North Zhejiang province, is only about a 1.5 hour drive from Shanghai. The name "water town" is especially apt; besides lying on the Grand Canal, the settlement is completely encircled by two rivers - the Dong Shi and a smaller tributary, which meet at a T-junction.
The waterways of Wuzhen are kept topped up with water by the adjacent Hangzhou to Beijing Grand Canal, which is still used to supply the dry north with water from the wet south and local goods transport. It was a major transport artery in times gone by, which led to the rise to prosperity of water towns like Wuzhen. After taking some time to walk along the alleys and byways of Wuzhen, we’ll take a boat cruise through the town’s canals. On the wooden boat you can enjoy the atmosphere of the traditional cultures and the original ancient features of the town that have been preserved intact, the elegant watery views and the strong local colored traditions and customs.
After our visit to Wuzhen we’ll drive back (by bus) to your homestay in Hangzhou.
Day 5 Hangzhou (B, L)
Following breakfast you will have another Tai Chi lesson with your instructor. Afterwards we’ll visit a Households Community and local residents home. Here you will learn more about the local folk culture, while also learning about their long yet fascinating lives. Then we’ll visit the Hangzhou Cooking School to learn about Hangzhou cuisine and home cooking.
Some dishes that you will be learning about will include West Lake Fish in Vinegar Gravy, Dongpo Pork, Beggar's Chicken and Fried Shrimps with Long Jing Tea Leaves. They are all great representations of Hangzhou cuisine, which has a lighter and more refined taste that what you would usually expect from Chinese food.
Day 6 Hangzhou (B, L)
After breakfast and your Tai Chi lesson, we’ll again return to the Households community and local residents home, where you will continue to learn about the rich cultural history of this beautiful city.
Following your visit we’ll head to Hangzhou Agedness College to learn about the traditional Chinese brush painting. Chinese painting has a rich history as an enduring art form and is well known throughout the world. Traditionally, Chinese painting is done on rice paper or thin silk, using a variety of brushes, Chinese ink and dye. Chinese painting covers a variety of subjects: portrait, landscape, flowers, birds, animals, and insects.
Traditional Chinese painting is known as “guo hua”. Like calligraphy, the painting is done using a brush dipped in black or colored ink, usually on paper or silk. The finished work can be mounted on scrolls and hung. Traditional painting has also been done on walls, porcelain, and lacquer ware. The two main techniques of Chinese painting that you will be learning about are:
“Gong-bi” or meticulous attention to detail, referring mainly to portraits, and “Xie yi” or freehand, referring mainly to landscapes.
The rest of the day can be spent at your own leisure. You might want to check out the city’s numerous delightful teahouses. In addition, there are numerous bars and pubs throughout Hangzhou.
Day 7 Hangzhou (B, L)
You will again have your Tai Chi lesson in the morning. We’ll then walk around the fame West Lake to No. 6 Park. West Lake. West Lake is a man-made lake and is created after the Chinese love for garden style parks for recreation. Hangzhou's West Lake Scenic Area, in the southwest of the city, covers 60 square kilometers (23 square miles), of which West Lake itself occupies 5.6 square kilometers (2.2 square miles). West Lake is a place of tranquility where urbanity becomes a silhouette on the northeast horizon and mountains near and far surround it on the other three sides. The occasional pagoda and Chinese-style arched bridge add atmosphere to the tree-lined walkways, verdant islands and hills.
At No. 6 park you’ll get a chance to speak to the locals at an “English corner”. Located throughout China, English corners are little informal groups for those looking to learn English. As a rule, only English is spoken, and topics can range from anything, so be prepared!
After the English corner and lunch, we’ll head out to the Daguan Primary School, where you will have a lesson on the traditional Chinese instrument such as the Pipa Erhu, and Flute.
Originally named after the loquat fruit, the earliest pipa known was found to have been made in the Qin Dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC). By the the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), the pipa had reached its summit. It was loved by everyone--from the royal court to the common folk--and it occupied the predominant place in the orchestra. Many well known writers and poets created poems and mentioned it in their works. Bai Juyi, the master poet, vividly depicted the performance like this: rapid and soft notes mingled were just like big and small pearls dropping onto the jade plates.
The Erhu, also called 'Huqin', was introduced from the western region during the Tang Dynasty. During the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), it was refined and improved and new variations appeared. It was also an important instrument for playing the melody of Beijing Opera.
When playing, the player usually stands the Erhu on his lap, and moves the bow across the vertical strings. The well-known music 'Two Springs Reflect the Moon' was created by the blind folk artist Liu Yanjun, also named A Bing by the people. Though he could not see anything of the world, he played his Erhu using his heart and imagination. This melody conjures up a poetic night scene under the moonlight and expresses the composer's desolation and hope.
The earliest flute was made from bone over 7,000 years ago. In the times since then, most flutes were made of bamboo, which allowed even common people to play it. By covering the holes and blowing through the side hole while moving the fingers flexibly between the six holes, a sound will be produced that is leisurely and mellifluous like sound from far away. This always reminds people of a pastoral picture of a farmer riding on a bull while playing a flute.
Day 8 Depart Hangzhou (B)
After a final breakfast at your homestay you will be taken to either the train station or the airport, where you will travel on to your next destination, ending your tour with us.