Today was pretty much work all day, but on the way back into the city my host rushed me to the ancient village of Zhou Zhuang (aka "Zhouzhuang," about 90 minutes west of Shanghai) so I could try and visit before it got dark. This is a quaint little fishing village that has been kept much the same as it was in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911)... except now the structures are filled with tourist traps, where shopkeepers yell at you to view their wares as you pass by. It's kind of sad, in a way, because there's simply too many people competing over too little profit. I can't help but wonder how some of them manage to get by.
Anyway, Zhou Zhuang is cut by a series of canals, and is linked by beautiful stone bridges. You can walk along the narrow streets, or hire a boat to take you along the canals. The boats are kind of Venice-like, in that the oarsman or oarswoman will serenade you with a song as they push through the water.
Kind of a cool way to end the day by seeing China as it once was...
I'm whipped. Knackered. Exhausted. Beat. Destroyed. Something tells me I might be able to get a little sleep tonight. That would be a pleasant change from the 3 hours I managed to get last night.
I love comments! However, all comments are moderated, and won't appear until approved. Are you an abusive troll with nothing to contribute? Don't bother. Selling something? Don't bother. Spam linking? Don't bother.
Very interesting Dave… and cool photos. I know this is greedy, capatalist American thinking, but… I can’t help but wonder what a little (lot?) would do to beautify this area. It possesses its own beauty, no doubt, but a fresh coat of paint wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
What is the neighborhood like there, like, since it’s touristy, is it considered to be an artsy sort of ‘hood? Is it middle-classish with families and schools? Just curious and admittedly, I know very little about China.
Is there any significance to the red lanterns hanging everywhere?
The community of Zhou Zhuang is a simple village that is very poor, and the tourist dollars don’t look like they can support an upgrade. Ironically, in ancient times, these dwellings were the exclusive homes of the very rich, and considered mansions.
In some ways, I am glad things are not candy-coated. This is how the people of China really live and survive outside of the cities, and I think if it were awash in fresh paint it would be more of a fantasy (like Disneyland?) than the reality of their life here. On the other hand, this village would be absolutely magical if it could look as it once did. Truly a fantasy-land come to life.
All of the construction seems to be happening in the newer part of town, which I am guessing is going to be housing. Perhaps after living conditions are improved, they can put more money into restoring the town to its original condition? I don’t know… to renovate an entire town would require massive funding that is probably needed elsewhere. They’ve got the Olympics in Beijing (2008) and the World Expo in Shanghai (2010).
As for the lanterns, red is the color of happiness and prosperity in China, and people decorate with it to bring good luck. I’m guessing the lanterns are functional decorations to do just that?
Dude, how cool is your life?
Great pics! 🙂