On the waterfront
Updated: 2013-09-26 00:24
By Guo Anfei (China Daily)
The ancient town of Zhouzhuang celebrates a storied past and an environment-friendly future, all in a setting that's straight out of a Chinese watercolor.
Zhouzhuang is one of the few places where you can experience the life of a typical Chinese water town.
Acclaimed as "Venice of the East", the town near Suzhou in Jiangsu province attracts a constant flow of visitors throughout the year with its well-preserved old houses and picturesque landscape of crisscrossing waterways.
Waterways flow through every corner of Zhouzhuang, flanked by well-preserved old houses with white walls and black-tiled roofs.Photos provided to China Daily
Zhouzhuang was listed as the world's Top 10 most beautiful towns by CNN in 2012. It was lauded as a Global Green Town by Global Forum on Human and Settlements in June.
Streams flow through every corner of Zhouzhuang, creating the pulse of local life and making the town look like a watercolor drawing painted with a Chinese brush.
Among the most eye-catching features in this picture-perfect landscape are the bridges, in different shapes and sizes — built with stone or wood.
Twin Bridge, built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), is a must-see in Zhouzhuang.
The Twin Bridge, built during the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), is considered the symbol of the town. One of its arches is round and the other is rectangular, which makes the bridge look like an ancient Chinese key. Thus locals also call it the Key Bridge.
The traditional residences in town, mostly built in the Ming and Qing dynasties (1644-1911), flank the winding waterways. Many of them are well-kept and preserve their original appearance, with white walls and black-tiled roofs.
The best way to get a taste of local lifestyle is spend an afternoon at a riverbank teahouse, sipping a cup of green tea and enjoying the river landscape.
In addition to the town's old charm, Zhouzhuang is striving to create new draws and improve its tourism facilities, according to Ren Yongdong, managing director of Zhouzhuang Tourism Company.
Carton King Creativity Park is one of the new attractions on Zhouzhuang's tourist map.
The park, including stores, a gallery, a museum and a restaurant, has become a must-see since its opening in August last year.
Everything you see in the park is made of cardboard cartons, from figurines and animals to hats, bags and furniture.
"They are not just for display," explains Chen Weilin, general manager of the Carton King Creativity Park. "A chair made of cartons can support as much weight as 200 kg."