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Day 9 Wuzhen

June 6, 2011

June 4, 2011

Ninth day in Shanghai: day trip to 乌镇 Wuzhen

Ate a breakfast of lychee, crackers and Oreos by the long-distance bus station. Huddled under umbrellas. Took a bus out and out through the countryside to 桐乡市 Tongxiang, and ate in a restaurant by the station. We ate some decent 番茄炒蛋 fanqie chaodan [fried eggs and tomatoes], boiled cabbage and 青椒肉 qingjiaorou [green peppers and beef] with 菊花茶 juhua cha [chrysanthemum tea]. We took a shuttle to 乌镇西栅 West Wuzhen. The entry fee was RMB120 (~$19). Wuzhen is a preserved ancient town on water. The buildings lining the river stick out over it, and boats ferry people under stone bridges. We found a couple willing to charter a boat with us and set out across toward the opposite pier. All of the charter boats coming toward us were rowed by women. We passed the crowds waiting for the shuttle boats at the pier and started down the main river, past wood and stone houses with tile rooftops. A light rain was falling. People sitting by the water drank tea, played cards, and chatted while we drifted past. At a pagoda with a stone base we alighted and saw a huge statue of 關公 Guangong. Beside the 白蓮寺 White Lotus Temple we saw a totally manga statue of 哪吒 Nezha amid fountains outside the children’s center. Watched people get soaked. Walked narrow streets, under wooden shutters, and saw cool bars set up in old buildings (like the 伍佰面 500 Times and 老木酒吧 Old Wood bars). Some buildings held shops, but many offered great cafes, like the Lotus Lounge, a bar, photo studio and art gallery (displaying children’s art and selling postcards of Wuzhen taken by the photo studio). A barber shop had preserved a 90 year old chair. I took a seat and got a shave. For RMB15 (~$3), the barber cleaned my face with a hot towel, trimmed the hairs along my eyebrows and hairline, and shaved my face. I lay back in the chair while the old barber shaved me with an old-fashioned plain razor blade.

We smelled something delicious and ran over to eat some 饼 [flatbread], then next door fo eat 咸豆浆 xiandoujiang [salty tofu soup] and 粽子 zongzi (sticky rice cooked wrapped in bamboo, eaten during 端午节 [the Dragon Boat Festival]). We explored an old two-story house with original wood and stone carvings and furniture, like a table that could be split into two halves placed against the walls during the host’s absence.

No buses remained to take us back to Shanghai, so we took a cab to the Tongxiang railway station. We drove past farms and factories and found the cavernous, clean and well-lit station. We ate more delicious zongzi at a chain restaurant and caught a train back to Hongqiao in Shanghai.

PS: At the bottom of a post click “Asia Summer 2011” to see all the posts so far.

KM

PPS: I forgot to add, we went for Suzhou-style noodles near Yang’s place. I got an egg and a slab of soft meat with the skin on for my noodles, which had a great texture and firmness like Kyushu ramen, but a less fatty, milder broth.

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