The plums in Hangzhou's Chaoshan Mountain are of a rather rare breed for having six petals compared to the five-petalled normal ones. On Feb 22, Neli Akhobadze, a Georgian student studying at Zhejiang University, found a six-petalled plum while participating one of the Enjoying Spring Festival in Hangzhou series events. The event she went was to explore the plums and intangible cultural heritages in Chaoshan.
Chaoshan Mountain in Yuhang district is one of the top three plum viewing spots in the south Yangtze River area. More than 50,000 plum trees have come into full bloom in February, turning this area into a fairy land of shimmering flowers and permeating early spring aroma. The area also boasts two ancient plum trees planted in Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) and Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.).
According to Neli the florescence in Georgia is relatively short due to the cold climate. "Before coming to Hangzhou, I could hardly distinguish the plums from cherries," said Neli. She recognized some camellias and roses that are called "Roses from China" in her hometown.
When Neli and other participants got there, some staffs of Chaoshan scenic area were making Tangyuan(汤圆), a glutinous rice flour made dessert specifically served on the up-coming Lantern Festival on Feb 26. Neli and her group joined the staffs to make some more.
The tip of making a perfect Tangyuan lies in wrapping the fillings, usually sesame and sugar, into the glutinous rice flour dough which falls apart easily. Neli was such a quick learner that she was able to make perfect Tangyuan without cracks after several trials. During the livestreaming via Hangzhoufeel's Facebook account, Neli taught her audiences the techniques and got many thumbs-up.
Inscription rubbing is another practice Neli had tried. The surface of a stone is rubbed onto a piece of paper to record its features of natural textures, inscribed patterns, or inscriptions. On the top of Chaoshan lays the engraved name of the hill "Chao Feng(Chinese:超峰)", two characters written by Zhang Zongxiang, the third president of Xiling Seal Engraver's Society. Neli learned to rub it onto a piece of paper while livestreaming so that thousands of people could watch her online and were wowed by her practice.