Shaoxing alive

Updated: 2014-12-12 07:00

(Shanghai Star)

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Shaoxing alive

The old city is often called the "Venice of the East". [Photo provided to shanghai star]

Shaoxing, a 2,500-year-old city dubbed the "Venice of the East" in Zhejiang province, has kept its vigor and vitality, with the scent of rice wine carrying on the wind and boats bobbing on the water.

In the old streets, the narrow lanes are paved with granite and the two-story houses have quaint, grey-tiled roofs. Slip powder walls and bamboo platform doors give me the illusion that I am in an old movie.

Walking along these streets has the ability to calm you down and restore your soul. One can enjoy a cup of green tea by the window of a teahouse by the river, or sit in a black covered boat bobbing on the river, listening to the boatman sing in the local dialect.

Such boats exist exclusively in Shaoxing. They used to be utilized as a means of public transportation to carry passengers and goods. Rich people used them to travel and hold grand wedding ceremonies.

Home of a literary giant: LU XUN

Black covered boats have also been described in local writers' novels. Chinese literary giant Lu Xun, a Shaoxing native, wrote about jumping into a boat without his mother's permission when he was young, and rowing to a neighboring village with friends to watch Shexi, an annual opera performance.

The stage where the opera once played still stands, and no one can doubt the place that Lu has in the hearts of the people of Shaoxing.

Lu Xun was the pen name of Zhou Shuren (1881-1936), a leading figure of modern Chinese literature. He abandoned medicine for literature, and devoted himself to saving people's minds rather than their bodies. His works influenced China's democratic movements in the 20th century.

His former residence has been kept as it was when he lived there. Lu spent his childhood and adolescence in the residence until 1899 when he left to travel elsewhere for further study.

The whole neighborhood is preserved, including the streets, markets, residences and river ways. Even today, children still play on the flag stones, women are still bargaining in the market stalls, and men are still talking about trivial matters in the restaurants.

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