The two sides of Wuzhen

Photography by John O’Brien.

The ancient town of Wuzhen is split by more than its canals. If you take a stroll over one of the many bridges, you will discover a more traditional and authentic representation of the historic province, explains John O’Brien.

Away from the hoards of tourists and local market traders baiting you for business, lays a serene and tranquil town that has a true ring of the traditional.

Tour groups and businesses in minimal numbers equates to a true representation of the traditional Chinese town.

Interspersed amongst the few tourists who have braved the bridges and found their way across the canals, are many old and fascinating buildings, houses and other architecture, that all played host to their own story. Museums, cobbled streets and narrow alley ways all transport you back to times gone by.

Untroubled by the crowds that were strolling freely and aimlessly past their windows, the locals sat in their homes playing mahjong or washing their clothing in the river, blissfully unaware of those in awe of their surroundings.

This is not to say that the tourist side of the town is worth avoiding. Warm welcomes come from every direction, vendors welcome you to peruse their items and into their stores, market traders even more so.

The hustle and bustle of the tourist rich banks can be a little off putting, especially when multiple groups of over enthusiastic Chinese parties barge their way through to the waters front. When the stress of this becomes to much, tranquillity is only a bridge away.

A town so small should not have such a stark and vivid contrast. But Wuzhen does so, quite effectively. Not only is it a tourist hotspot with countless intriguing shops and stalls, but it is also a peaceful place of residence for so many.

This fusion creates a unique and enthralling town that many tourist hotspots in the United Kingdom could only dream of, and would go some way as to help describe its popularity and unanimous admiration of those lucky enough to sample its hidden treasures.

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Filed under China Trip 2010

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