A Weekend Getaway in Wuzhen
Written & Photos by (作者,图片来源): Yijun Fang 方毅俊
I first fell in love with Wuzhen when I watched the 2003 TV series //The Lost Years//. I also traveled to the town decades ago, and this second tour helped me see a side of the place I had never seen before.
We booked a hotel in the Eastern section of the city. Even though there were throngs of tourists, I was quite excited. Upon entering we were surrounded by selfie sticks. I grabbed my wife’s hand and we made a detour through the crowds. We eventually found ourselves in an alley with fewer tourists. There were locals, but they went about their daily lives as if we didn’t exist.
It was as if there were two worlds inside the town.
The muggy weather before the coming storm in Ningbo was suffocating. Wandering through more crowded streets, I eventually lost interest in the ancient buildings. I sat on the cobblestone walkway on the side of the street with my wife, watching the selfie sticks, held by people taking pretentious poses.
We made our way to the Western District next, following our tour of the eastern area. Compared with the underdeveloped east part of town, the west is already sold-out. There are no people living here, only commercial hotels. Development of the area has led to a loss of scenic beauty. The water was filled with tour boats, the lanes with tourists and cameras. The streets were lined with shops selling the same identical trinkets and souvenirs.
Without a doubt, though, Wuzhen is still beautiful even after what we have done to her.
Early the next day we wandered along the undeveloped south side of the town. There were relatively few tourists. We got to watch the shop owners opening or closing shop. Two owners took down a board without making any sound. I looked through each shop, with their chatty owners, noisy kids. It was a long train of happiness in the narrow alleys. We watched as time passed and the shop owners went about their daily business.
Wuzhen is quiet in the morning. Time slowly flows and comes alive as the light hits the windows and carved walls. The sun snuck through the alleys and people slowly but surely woke up and came out.
I’m still fond of my trip to Wuzhen, despite the artificial development to lure more tourists. The silent walk through ancient lanes, people strolling along with umbrellas, talking with soft southern accents. The tipsy Wupeng boats gliding along the canals, the sunset, the old gates. These moments have left a mark in my memory that will never fade.
Two boats at night, clouds and birds are flying back.?The moon is bright the town is full of bridges, I’ll see you again in my dream, I’ll go to the mountains with you by my side.
Get There |行
You can get to Wuzhen by car or train. It is a 2-3 hour drive from Ningbo. Take the Hangyong Highway, switching at Huhang Highway once you’ve arrived in Hangzhou. Exit at Tudian and drive past Tongxiang. From there, it should take 20 minutes to reach Wuzhen. To go by train, embark from Ningbo Railway Station and get off at Tongxiang Station. From there, take Bus 282 to Wuzhen Bus Station. The ride is 5 RMB per person and takes an hour. Be sure to check with each hotel for shuttle services.
There are numerous bed and breakfasts and family style hotels throughout Wuzhen. You can book online. There are different choices and price ranges to choose from according to budget and itinerary.
Dine | 吃
There are fantastic restaurants all around Wuzhen serving local favorites like mutton stew, duck stew with soy sauce, Dongpo Pork and Gusao cake. Eating within the West District is a bit pricey, but outside is more affordable.