The Venice of the East

Trip Start May 21, 2011
Trip End Jun 01, 2011

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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Friday, May 27, 2011

Enough though the hotel is no smoking, it is just a suggestion. There is a no smoking sign in our hotel room next to an ashtray and matches. Every once in a while you will see a Chinese man sitting in the lobby or at the restaurant (next to the no smoking sign) smoking a cigarette.

Today we are going to the "Venice of the East," a water village in south-east China. The architecture is smaller in scale than in Shanghai but grander in detail. This is known as the richest place in all of China due to the abundance of fish and rice, it is also said that this is where the best looking girls are (again because of the abundance of fresh food). The water village is also know for the beautiful stone bridges suspended above the canals, (at one point there were 2,000 bridges.) The canal here is the second largest canal in the world.

When we got there it was very different than I expected. Back in Boston I had done research on it and was expecting a tranquil environment. Instead it was a major tourist attraction so there were tour guides and large groups all crowed on narrow uneven walk ways. I also noticed we were the only American and English speaking group there and were often photographed.

We started off by visiting two traditional Chinese houses built 300-500 years ago. While the history of the houses and the purposes of the rooms were fascinating it was too crowded to really enjoy. The first house was significantly less crowded than the second and I could appreciate the first more.

Afterwards we took a boat (well our group took 4 boats because of their small size) around the river ways. A general observation I've made about the tourism industry is that all drivers (bus, taxi, and boat) all wear white gloves as part of their uniform. After getting on the boat and moving deeper into the village away from the main tourist area it became very tranquil and quiet, it was more of what I had expected. We saw women washing clothing, men fishing and tons of boats. Our "boat driver" was an older female woman who volunteered to sing for us for a tip. When it came time to tip her, Berry handed her 5 yen which she was unhappy with, she wanted more. Since Berry is fluent in Mandarin he was able to (understand and) respond to her saying that she had said upfront it was up to us to determine her tip. I found it very interesting that she was trying to barter with us about how much she would get paid. After a quick "simple" lunch we were off to the Gardens.

The Gardens were very tranquil and beautiful. From the inside of the garden you couldn't see the skyscrapers around it. After the gardens we went to a shopping area (and did some damage) before walking over to the B___ to see the skyline from the other side of the river.
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