Noilly Prattle: China - Spring 2018, Zhujiajiao, a charming old water town

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

China - Spring 2018, Zhujiajiao, a charming old water town

man powered rickshaws
Sing Dynasty post office
     Took the 12:26 high speed train to Hongqiao Airport and transferred to the Metro to Zhujiajiao, an ancient water town between Shanghai and Suzhou in the lakes and canals region. It was a little confusing after leaving Zhujiajiao Metro station, but we soon got oriented and started walking to the old town but decided to take a rickshaw peddled by a man. It was quite a bit farther than we had thought so were glad we had taken the rickshaw even though we were not dropped off at our hotel. The driver merely pointed us in a vague direction. We soon found a tourist information center and got directions to the hotel—the My Way Inn. Easy enough to find because it's next door to a famous post office built in the 19th Century during the Sing Dynasty, the last Imperial dynasty in China. It is famous because it's the only Sing Dynasty Post Office still standing.

My Way Inn and Renaissance Woman
canal view from our veranda
       The My Way Inn is quite a contrast from the more modern hotels we stayed at in Suzhou and Hangzhou. The hotel is an old canal house that has probably been around for several hundred years and looks it. Very quaint and charmingly appointed with odd bits of this and that from all over the place. The owner has traveled abroad and speaks excellent English. She is also reputed to be an accomplished musician as well. Also teaches yoga and tai chi in her spare time—a Renaissance woman!

tea on the veranda
our go to noodle shop
       After resting a while and having some tea  on our canal-side veranda we went out and wandered about the town a bit to get acquainted and get something to eat as well. It was getting late in the afternoon and the sun was pretty far in the west when we found a noodle shop and went in for a couple bowls. There was a large party of very exuberant women and I caught a few photos of a young woman in a traditional red costume posing for a photo op through a window behind the ladies.

landmark stone arch bridge - Zhujiajiao icon
old houses line the canal
       Zhujiajiao old town is all about narrow streets and olive green canals lined with old houses. It is old stone bridges and boats, boats, boats. In fact, the town is reminiscent of Venice with its narrow lanes, canals and gondoliers. Zhujiajiao has its own version of gondoliers who steer the tour boats with one oar at the rear. Many wear conical hats, but they don't seem to sing.

the only wooden bridge in Zhujiajiao

not all boats are for tourists 

 picturesque confluence of two canals

our street
lovely old houses on the canal at sunset
      The old town with its little narrow streets and alleys is particularly lovely in the evenings as the sun is throwing some beautiful mellow evening light on the canals and old buildings giving the scene a warm glow.

Zhujiajiao's iconic stone arch bridge at sunset

sunset glow on the berthed tour boats

breakfast on the veranda
canal side kebabs
     One thing stands out and it's about the innkeeper. The lady is quite an accomplished artiste of many talents—she's a published writer, musician of traditional instruments and poetic songs, a practitioner and teacher of yoga and tai-chi, a dancer and an innkeeper—she speaks English very well and teaches an English class. The My Way Hotel is her brainchild I think. For a reasonable charge she offered to bring breakfast to our room in the mornings. After returning from exploring the old town and eating simple (and very reasonable) noodle shop and and fast food kebab shop fare one day, the innkeeper was having an English conversation class and invited us to sit in and participate. On another evening she was having a show of yoga and traditional song and dance performances that we enjoyed tremendously.

Traditional Chinese Song Performance

yoga performance 
our hostess performing
a traditional song

the English Class and guests

       The contrast of the simple fare and accommodation and the accomplishments of the innkeeper provided a wonderful contrast to the hustle and bustle of Suzhou and Hangzhou. You just never know what you will run across on the open road.

Old Stone Bridge at night 

No comments: