The last day in Yibin was filled with exploring the place we had the 1st Confederation of International Tea Smallholders (CITS) Meeting. The place had a greenhouse and tea gardens. We took a tour and were entertained until the meeting. The meeting was informative because we were shaping the documents and the tone of the CITS. Afterward, we had lunch and went to the airport to get on Tibetan Air to Hangzhou.
Was a little sad because we had to say goodbye to some really nice people who were not going to the First International Green Tea Conference in Shengzhou with us. Once we got to Hangzhou we took a bus to Shengzhou where our hotel was. When we arrived we went to our rooms and went to a dining hall to eat a late meal.
The last two photos are the inside of Yibin Airport.
The Raabs and I did go to the Specialty Tea Exhibit again on the morning of March 19, 2019. We were able to see the whole exhibition, the day before we were only there for about a half hour to hour. When you have about eight people it is harder to a quick look at all the exhibitors. We just really went to one booth and only looked at 2 -3 booths. The Raabs and I were able to see all of the booths and taste many, many teas. Later on, we had to get back for the business side of our trip. Learning about tea trends across the world from the heads of the tea industry for each country. It was interesting hearing from the supply side and the demand side. Also, it depends on the wealth of the country what they were looking for too.
One thing I can definitely say is we did not have to worry about having enough food or tea. The dinners pictures below combined, plus add twice as much food. This does not include meals between meals and for the tea as much hot water and tea as you could drink. This was the going away dinner, but all dinners had at least double the amount of food pictured in both photos for 10 people per table. They had to stack the dishes on top of dishes because there was no room on the tables.
After lunch, we were shuttled to Mingwei Tea Factory to witness the Shouting Ceremony and visit Mingwei Tea Fields, Museum and Tea Factory. You can watch the videos, but understand I am definitely not a professional videographer and these are just snippets of the ceremony. They closed the roads so our motorcade of shuttles could drive without stopping. We had so many pictures taken of us, interviews for tv & newspapers, and they even offered to peel oranges for us. After the ceremony, we were shuttled to the Mingwei Tea factory and Museum.
When we got back we had a huge dinner. There was a vegetarian table where I was sitting with a few people from Nepal, Sri Lanka, and a lady from Germany about 7 people in total. It was nice because whenever there was a vegetarian table Tuba the lady from Germany and I would look for each other to make sure we were sitting at the correct table.
We were shuttled to the Specialty Tea Exhibition in Yibin for the Opening Ceremony for the 3rd Annual International Tea Conference. This is the start ok, well March 17th night was more like the start of the business side of the conference. The opening ceremony was a grand occasion, the Chinese really wanted to impress the international tea community and to hand out awards.
The featured picture is the USA tea people cheering each other. It was great to feel the warmth of my community. We were at the Specialty Tea Exhibition. This happened in the morning because in the afternoon we went to visit the first tea farm of our trip.
I will continue with the trip and the second half of March 18, 2019, next week 🙂
After a good night’s rest on March 17, 2019, woke up and ate a lovely breakfast. After breakfast, we were shuttled to a Tea Tasting Ceremony at the Yangtze River Park in Yibin near the site where two rivers form the Yangtze River.
It was a little drizzly so we got ponchos, but I did not wear one. Since I was one of the VIP’s we got nice close seating to the festivities. There were dance numbers, different stories and myths, water transported by a drone to tea tasting ceremony, and a grand spectacle.
Afterward, I was given a formal invite to speak with tea gardens to sell their tea from China and abroad. This is where I met some Nepali people (fellow vegetarians so I followed them through the buffet) they had a person tell them what was vegetarian and what was not.
Walking to Yangtze River Park for the Tea Tasting Ceremony.
Tasting some tea from the local vendors before the ceremony
There also were a few dance numbers. Below is a picture of the drone carrying water from the Yangtze River to be used in the tea ceremony shown in the second to last picture. The last picture is me and my tea. It was refilled with water several times.
We were given the 5 star treatment by the Chinese government. They used a couple shuttle buses to transport us from the airport to the hotel. Our flight was a popular flight for the World Tea Conference with even the head lady responsible for mine and many other tea leaders trip just two seats back of me. We got to the hotel and had many students trying to help us with our check in, luggage, and room. They were really nice, but I felt a little overwhelm (3 days with only four hours sleep, same clothes for those 3 days, and dealing with a time difference of 13 hours). We each had a personal helper, mine was Micheal. They were students learning English and volunteering helped them with that. We went to our rooms and went down to eat right afterwards because it was late and they wanted to make sure we had supper. So I went down still stinky and a little out of sorts and grab some food. The food was amazing and buffet style (not typical buffet though). I was still out of sorts and had a nice gentleman who could tell I was out of sorts let me sit at his table with his fellow representatives of Bangladesh. They were really kind. Afterwards I went straight to my room to take a bath (see last picture of bathtub). Tried and succeeded in staying up until 9 pm before going to sleep. I wanted to be on Chinese time. Next post continues my journey.
The featured picture is a close up of a really cool bridge across the Yangtze River in Yibin, Sichuan, China.
Well not sure where to start and this trip happened about two months ago. I guess I can say that March 13th I was working my last Badger State Brewery Winter’s Farmers Market and drove down to Chicago that night to take an early flight to China on March 14th. This was the worst place I stayed at the whole trip because it was a musty room, though every other room was great to excellent.
I meet so many nice people and only minor inconveniences during the whole trip. It was truly life changing and wonderful.
A great story I have about Beijing Airport is a few hours before boarding Air China to Yibin I was sitting and an elderly lady with her daughter and her daughter’s baby sat next to me. The elderly lady got up and her daughter sat next to me with her baby. We chatted and she mentioned that she is the one who gets international films for the Chinese people and she was taking her 10-month old baby girl on her first flight. I was also her baby’s first foreigner and the baby would touch me gently and stare at me. She was cute. They were going to the Hong Kong Film Festival and the mother figured it was a short enough flight for the baby. She mentioned going to Cannes, Sundance, Toyko Film Festival, etc…. I told her why I was in China and she took my card. Just one of many lovely moments I had in China, though I wished I got her card.
Please look at the pictures below and the captions and I will continue my story in other blog posts.