After several years of trying (admittedly, probably not trying hard enough), I finally made it to one of the ‘Water Towns’ in the Jiangsu province, near to Shanghai. The whole country had come to a stop to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, which I understand indirectly commemorates overthrow of Mongol rule (although I have never quite understood the full background of the story).
Zhouzhuang is proudly titled ‘Venice of the East’, though it should be noted that along with nearby Tongli, Wuzhen and Zhujiajiao, seventeen places also make the same claim. According to Wikipedia, seven places also call themselves Paris of the East, but since Casablanca is actually further west, I don’t think these claims hold much water.
The massive expanses of coastal plain around Kunshan and Shanghai are perfect for mega-scale manufacturing sites, but you can forget escaping it with the same ease that one can in Hong Kong or Taipei; places like this are normally bulldozed to make way for factories, well, making parts for computers. So, while the weather was suffering as a result of a Typhoon hitting Taiwan, and there were a couple too many tour groups led by leaders with loudhailers and flags, it made for a thoroughly pleasant break from the grind of factory visits and sitting in offices waiting for parts to be spat out of a machine.
A girl poses beside one of the bridges.
While the towns are increasingly pure tourist centres, some people are evidently still going about their daily business, and there are still signs that people still live there.
One of several temples in the town – the number of temples and religious establishments here are dramatically less than in Taiwan; indeed, one Chinese person quipped to me ‘Taiwan has too much religion. And too many dogs.”
Falling in line with my Rules of Graphics Design: there is no logo that cannot be improved with lightening bolts.
Mirror evidence I think of some subtle Fengshui at work.
Boats on the river ply their trade (of tourists).
My obsession with shooting windows and doors continues.
Toys on display on the street.
Modification of the roofs for modern conveniences.
Laid out bare.
I watched for a while this mysterious hand sell traditional toys on the street.
This shop, as far as I can tell, sells round things.
I got a serious earful from the lady on the left before, during and after taking this photo.
Ladies wot lunch.
Portraits of eminent leaders … but can you spot some of the others in the background? …