Day 11: Subachi and Tea Plantage

The day started early because we had to catch the 10 am plane to our next destination Guilin – the countryside of China. Once more travelled safely and landed on time, we arrived at probably the most beautiful place in China. The area is so popular due to the wonderful sceneries of hills separated by rivers.

Unfortunately, our itinerary would not allow immediate sightseeing. Coming directly from the airport, we were expected at Subachi. Subachi manufactures watch straps, belts, bags and more out of leather. The company is a Chinese, Swiss and French venture and a supplier of many famous Swiss watch manufacturers. The fast and highly trained fingers of Subachi’s workers produce products that suffice the high quality expectations of luxury brands. To include some facts, it is mind boggling that Subachi manufactures a watch strap for CHF 2 – 2.5, depending on the leather used. Customers in Switzerland are charged CHF 400.-.

Right after the first visit of that day we headed to a tea plantage by bus, a bit outside of Guilin. The tea plantage is a scholary institution. The institution grows tea organically. We were introduced to how and when tea is harvested. Afterwards, we were told how leaves are processed to end as tea. In a hot bowl of up to 180° C, nowadays heated with electricity, the leaves are turned by bare hands. Later on, these leaves are placed in a bowl and kept hot for about three hours. Depending on what tea should be produced, different leaves and branches are used. For example, green tea only needs leaves whereas black tea is made out of a combination of leaves and branches.

Having seen these procedures, we went inside to get introduced how two drink tea and to try four flavours. One of the tea we had gets better and better with the age. The one we drank aged for 20 years and was delicious. Another one is called “Lady Tea” due to the fact that the leaves could be “recycled”. The leaves could be used as perfume. In the tea culture, it is important to know how to drink tea. Two fingers are on top of the cup and one at the bottom. Then one smells and considers the colour of the tea before drinking the cup with three or more sips. Drinking it in less than three sips is a sign of stupidity.

Also at the tea plantage, we met Chinese tourism students. These students guided us to a local restaurant in Guilin. We had conversations about their studies, their lifestyle and family live. The conversation could certainly have been better if we spoke mandarin. Yet overall, we managed to interact in English with a lot of body language.

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