Once a month the college takes foreign teachers on a tour. There is always an element of confusion with these tours - we are given only a few days notice, just the names of the cities or town we will visit, and the day before we are given the starting time. This one was an early one.
7 am we groaned!!! But the trip had promise so around 20 folk arrived at the West Gate to catch the bus. A nice airconditioned bus - it is still pretty hot here, so that was a necessity. We set off for the drive of 2 hours to Wuzhen.
This is an ancient water village - with a long and intersting history. People still live in the village - though it seems to be only the older ones, as the young ones have moved on. Too much for them! I guess having thousands of people tramp through the place, especially at weekends.
And they leave the doors open of their little old homes, and it is intersting to peep inside. Some of them have been updated with tiled floors and modern kitchen, most seem to have television and even computers.
Others seem to be dark and dingy and some have Chairman Mao's picture on the wall. Not in a frame, but just stuck on. I guess there are many who still remember the past well. The village has many narrow alleyways, stone bridges over the canals, and mostly timber buildings that are on either side of the narrow main alley, which winds its way through the village.
There are interesting places all along - the ancient medicine shop (all restored), the Bed Museum (a must - very fascinating), The Rice Wine factory, the fabric place, the home of MaoDun, the Wood Carving Museum, and so much more.
When you come out of the laneway, there are shops everywhere, and as we were there on a Saturday, crowds and crowds of people and lots of noise and smoke. (It seems that so many of the men wer puffing away at their cigarettes!)
We had lunch at a restaurant nearby, but three of our group were missing. There was confusing information given when we set out. First we were told that we had to meet back at the entrance, and then later told that we had to meet at the other gate. Not all got the message it appears. One of the students with us was sent back to find the three missing Aussie teachers and bring them to the restaurant and he got a taxi. But the taxi too them somewhere else, and it was all a bit of an adventure for them. They all missed out on a lovely lunch!
Eventually we caught up with them again. In time to board the bus to Haining. Wuzhen is very interesting, but we always regret that we travelto these places on a weekend - it is so noisy and crowded. But for us, there is little choice.