Thursday, 15 May 2008
Shaoxing - Venice of the East
On Tuesday night - on somewhat of a whim, we did what we have been talking about for some time and took a boat ride around the canals of Shaoxing. Shaoxing has a reputation as a water city, or canal city and it is often called the Venice of the East. I've read that there could be some 5000 bridges - and it wouldn't surprise me as they are everywhere.
The boats leave from a canal which is a fairly short walk from the college - and five us wandered around there and were the first to be seated on the boat which is a pretty ordinary looking craft, different to many in this country.
It was decorated with red lanterns, and on the flat deck were white plastic tables and chairs, and on each table one or two trays complete with teapot, and small cups. Our tour guide put boiling water in the pot, and a tea bag and we were soon sipping lovely China tea.
The tour took over an hour through most interesting places. We would love to see the scenery in day time, but our boat only did night tours, so we will have to find another craft to take us during daylight hours.
It was such a pretty ride - many of the bridges had brilliantly coloured lights, and along the canals, buildings were lit up either by rows of red lights and lanterns, or by garish bright neon lights that screamed their message - in Chinese of course.
Wonderful willows hung over the side of the canals, and we could see into buildings and roadways close by. Fishermen were casting huge nets on bamboo poles, people were walking along the many paths, and as we see often in parks, people were walking backwards. It is supposed to kep the brain more active.
Under some bridges there were groups of men and women ball room dancing, or at one, they were line dancing and another there was Tai Chi. The parks get a wonderful workout here in China, and I don't think it is just that they have small gardens. Some of the apartment blocks have huge wonderful gardens, but the locals just enjoy the night time scenery and meeting their friends, and getting exercise in these fabulous parks.
The boat slowly put-putted along, through some parts that we recognised as it skirted the city, and then went close to large shopping centres we knew, and near the railway station at Shaoxing.
There are many more canals and it was intriguing casting our eyes along little narrow old canals, and along wide ones that disappeared into the darkness. It was such a wonderful and spectacular sight that we are setting off to do the trip tonight - just two nights later.
You can check out a bit more about Shaoxing - especially if you are going to visit!