On the waterfront

Updated: 2013-09-26 00:24

By Guo Anfei (China Daily)

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On the waterfront

Everything in Carton King Creativity Park is made of cardboard cartons, from toys to furniture, which are particularly attractive to young visitors.

The park is the Taiwan company's first store on the Chinese mainland, Chen says. "All the materials are recycled corrugated paper to make furniture and crafts, which are environment-friendly and creative," Chen says.

Chen is optimistic about the future of the park. "With the rapid development of Chinese economy, tourists' purchasing power will increase, and there will be great development space in Zhouzhuang."

The 1086 Street is another new site to showcase local cultural heritage. The 200-meter-long street is a concentration area of lodging and catering. More recreational facilities like bars and coffee shops have been planned for construction in the near future, according to Ren.

Some of the businesses are run by people from other parts of the country.

Bar owner Guo Tao, from Lijiang in Yunnan province, is one of them.

Guo and his wife first visited Zhouzhuang in 2010. "We fell in love with the town during our one-week stay. Then we decided to move here."

Business was not very good two years ago but it's getting better, with more returning customers, Guo says.

"In Zhouzhuang, I can find the freedom of the soul. I hope one day I could buy a house of my own and finally settle down."

On Minsu Street there are dozens of inns run by local residents. The decorations are authentic and the inn-owners are considerate, honest and enthusiastic.

Zhu Sanguan, 72, once an actor, works at a hotel in town.

A few years ago, Zhouzhuang was very quiet with few tourists and people lived a leisurely life, Zhu recalls. "Most of us lived on farming and fishing."

With the town's increasing popularity, the number of tourists skyrocketed. Many people in the town opened hotels and restaurants, and sold souvenirs.

"Life is much better and busier," Zhu says.

"People used to go to bed after the sunset," he says. "Days like that are long gone."

Li Yingqing and Hu Yongqi contributed to the story.

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