This morning rain was pouring down on the city of Shanghai. The rain combined with all the electric signs, giant television screens, and large quantities of Chinese people reminded me of what Los Angeles will look like in the year 2019 – this is based on what I’ve been conditioned to believe. I decided to eat breakfast (an English-styled breakfast) in the hostel instead of venturing out in the rain to find a place. As I was finishing up my meal, a German man who is staying in the same six-bed dormitory room as I am came down and together we decided to explore the ancient town of Zhujiajiao, the so-called “Venice of Asia” due to its abundance of canals. We left the hostel and proceeded on foot to the appropriate bus stop. The rain was relentless and my rainjacket helped some, but my shorts, socks, and shoes were soaked. Some water even made it in to my camera case (I need to invest in some more ziplock bags to ensure the camera and the batteries remain dry, especially since monsoon season is coming where I’m going). We made it to the bus stop at Pu’an Lu (near the Shanghai Concert Hall) and found the approriate bus through a little bit of Chinglish; a few minutes later we were off.
The bus ride took approximately ninety minutes and stopped at the city center (that is the center of the modern city, not the “ancient town”). We then walked to the tourist attraction that is the “ancient town”, which took another thirty minutes; luckily, the rain had let up considerably and besides a minor drizzle it was practically nonexistent. The “ancient town” of Zhujiajiao lies on the Caogang River, from which two canals flow in to the town, one on each side of the river and one canal breaks further in to two; of course the rest of the city itself has many more canals, some of which we saw on the walk over to the “ancient town”, but the rest of the city is more modernized and not as scenic as the “ancient town” area. Upon entering the town, we immediately were walking along one of its canals and we headed toward the river. There were many boats moving up and down the waterways and along the banks were many shops, restaurants, and food stalls – which were selling cooked pigs feet, duck, chicken, prawns, fish, and something wrapped in leaves. We then took the Fangsheng Bridge across the Caogang River to the other side of town, where we wandered around some more through the winding streets and along the edge of the canals. We also walked the outside perimeter of Yuanjin Buddhist Temple (a tall structure able to be seen throughout much of the town), though did not pay to step inside. All in all, I think the “ancient town” of Zhujiajiao captured the romantic charm one associates with the old world of the orient better than anyplace I’ve been to yet in Asia.
After taking in much of the town with our eye and camera lenses, we headed back to the bus stop. Rain droplets began to pour down in greater numbers, the sidewalks were slippery, and we had a long way to get back, but made it just in time (a few minutes) before the bus departed back to Shanghai (the bus leaves every thirty minutes, so we would’ve had to wait around a rather unwelcoming station for more time than we desired if we had not made it in time). The bus brought us back to Pu’an Lu and from there we walked back to the hostel through a light rain; along the way back, I bought a Cafe Mocha to warm my innards. We then made it to the hostel where I rested a while before venturing out again, this time in search of dinner. I ended up eating at a nearby restaurant where I had steamed bullfrog in a chili sauce and fried noodles with vegetables; the bullfrog dish had a little too much spine and other bones in it, so not a whole lot of meat. After dinner I went back to the hostel where I retired for the night.