Tongli, China

Trip Start Mar 13, 2007
Trip End Aug 10, 2007

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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Thursday, July 19, 2007

I decided to take a daytrip by boat on the Grand Canal to Tongli, a small well-preserved movie-set like town with canals, stone bridges, classical gardens, historic homes, museums, and lots of shops with aggressive touts trying to lure you in.  Chinese people apparently fall for tourist tack too since the vendors couldn't make a living from what they manage to sell to the 2% or so of visitors who appear to be foreigners.  Although lovely in appearance to the point that it has frequently been used as a mevie set to depict an ancient Chinese village, Tongli is now entirely a tourist town where even the women fishing in the canals with cormorants are really only fishing for tourist money, tossing their cormorants off their boats to fish when a tourist pays them for the photo shot. 

The Grand Canal connected the imperial city of Hangzhou in the south with the Yellow River valley in northern China and was considered to be an engineering marvel almost on par with the Great Wall.  Nowadays the canal still transports a great deal of barge traffic in spots, although is no longer navigable for its entire length, and the canal's shores are dominated by industry.  Having done this daytrip as a group tour I booked through my hostel in Suzhou, the day wouldn't be complete without a stop at a local silk factory/showroom for a demonstrations on how silk is made and the convenient opportunity to shop for silk products somewhere the tour guide can get her cut of anything we might buy.
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