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Watertown...The Venice of China

Friday, November 6, 2009

Watertown Boats, About An Hour From Shanghai

About an hour outside of Shanghai is a wonderful "Village" that sits on the banks of many canals. Having been to Venice, it has a similar nature, but of course the cultural feel is completely different. Our tour guide only charged us $60 for the day to take us out into the rural part of the country to visit this amazing little place. It's actually not too little as we discovered. There is a proper chinese name for the village but  I don't remember it off hand (as it was a bit long) and it is okay to refer to it as Watertown.

Watertown , About An Hour From Shanghai

I wanted to go here to get a feel of how villagers lived along the canals and to see the old buildings. After we arrived here, we stepped into one of the many asian style gondolas that lined the canal. It is possible to walk along much of the town, but a gondola provides a unique experience and can be faster as a taxi service to further areas.

Watertown, About An Hour From Shanghai

It was a bright sunny day and quite pleasant to float along the canals. Eventually we pulled over and began to walk along the narrow street. I was able to capture a few shots of the locals and found it interesting that they used the canal to wash their clothes and dishes. At this time of the morning, there were a number of older women in the narrow alleys, preparing food for both home and sale. They place a large pot down inside a cardboard box and boil their food. I didn't ask too many questions due to the language barrier, but it was great to watch the care and time they put into their craft.

Watertown Cook, About An Hour From Shanghai

The main shopping area of Watertown was nice. There is a long street which is lined with many food shops and the like. Much of the food for sale is prepared differently than what we're used to, such as the pork legs and the hairy crabs. There are also shops for hats, clothes etc…and the prices were quite cheap and can be bargained down. I used to feel bad about bargaining, but it is such a common practice throughout many asian countries that I've gotten used to it. I've also found that you'll pay too much at times if you don't..and find it down the street for a quarter of the cost.

Watertown Shop, About An Hour From Shanghai

One of the larger bridges over the canal had a number of older chinese women who would try to sell you a fish or turtle to for a nominal price and then you're supposed to toss them back into the river. I don't remember the purpose precisely, but mainly it has something to do with buddhist tradition and the particular area. I asked if this was a tourist scam, but apparently it's something they take seriously. I wondered if someone was under the bridge catching everything in a net to be brought back up for sale again.

Watertown Canal, About An Hour From Shanghai

Lunch, was great. The four of us ate in a local restaurant and sat out by the canal. It was apparently VERY local, as we stood out like a sore thumb and were seated between two large round tables full of loud, drinking chinese men who thought everything was funny. I loved the traditional food, including the whole fish, pork leg and tofu soup…and no, I'm not being sarcastic. The photos of Watertown, Shanghai are HERE.

Watertown, About An Hour From Shanghai


Cory S. Lynn said...

This area is in Suzhou more specifically Tongli Town. I was there in 2004 & it is really a lovely place to visit that is very close to Shanghai. Happy you got a chance to see it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cory, I think you're thinking of a different area. Suzhou is about two hours outside of Shanghai and Watertown is about one hour. I know the place you're talking about, but we didn't venture out that far. :-)


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