Friday, August 13, 2010

My Trip to Shanghai - part 2 Xitang

Around Shanghai, there are now many old 'water villages' developed for tourism (e.g. Zhouzhuang, Zhujiajiao, Tongli, Wuzhen), and they are particularly busy these days due to Expo visitors. I think they are very similar and all rather commercialised. We chose Xitang, location for some scenes in Mission Impossible 3.

It is very pretty, but the narrow streets along the river were not designed for so many people! And there's plenty of water falling from the sky as well, so we were more than happy to have a tricycle as our baggage cart to help us to our rooms in a traditional old riverside inn.

Xitang has a romantic atmosphere, and at night, couples could be seen floating off their 'love candles' as a sign of true love. I hope they didn't see the bargeman clearing up the candles out of the water a hundred yards downstream.

It was a pity that disco music could be heard coming out of a riverside bar, but that's modernisation for you! Some traditional arts continue, such as playing the 'erhu' (2-stringed instrument) by the river, woodblock printing handmade by an old master in his fine family courtyard house, as well as frying stinky beancurd and making wonton.

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