Zhangjiagang  :  

Zhangjiagang: East China's hidden gem

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2018-04-17

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 0

Zhangjiagang: East China's hidden gem

Two members of the tour group take part in a wonton-making activity, April 14. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

With midday approaching, the ravenous group begins to tuck into the buffet. With a dish to suit almost every palate, nobody is disappointed. Just when it seems that there couldn't possibly be anything else on offer, the chefs bring out their pièce de ré•sis•tance –– a whole, roasted Beijing duck.

A fresh ripple of excitement runs through the foreign diners as they prepare to queue up for a serving of delicious duck, wrapped in pancake.

"The food has been absolutely amazing," says Krishnan, 27, from New Zealand, accurately summing up the feelings of many in the group.

After two hours of delicious Chinese food, we depart the hotel for Xiangshan Mountain scenic area, located in the west of the city. There is some trepidation among the group that we are going to have to climb this forbidding obstacle to what we've come to see –– the pagoda at the top. We are all still full from our lunch, and not exactly in the mood for a hike, but luckily our thoughtful hosts have laid on transport.

As we get near the top, we are treated to a tai chi performance at the mountain's Historical and Cultural Exhibition Hall, with many of the group enthusiastically trying out their moves, much to the amusement of some of the more experienced martial arts enthusiasts.

Not known for my tai chi skills, I get into conversation with Marco, a resident of the city originally from Finland. He is full of enthusiasm for Zhangjiagang.

We have seen quite a good selection of what you can see around the city today, I've been here a year and I would definitely recommend it to someone who wants to move to China, he says.

Many of us are delighted to find some local Shazhou yellow wine inside the exhibition hall; people dive forward, eager to try it first. It slips down the throat easily, sweeter than I expected, with a slight after burn common to most wines. Many grab more, and it's clear that Zhangjiagang's wine producers have just won some new customers.

On reaching the top of the mountain, we finally get our first proper look at the pagoda. It does not disappoint, and a sea of camera phones quickly appear to record the moment.

The structure, built in the style of the Ming and Qing dynasties, is nearly 65 meters tall, with the beautiful scenery of Zhangjiagang stretching out for miles in every direction. We all enjoy the peace, the beauty, and the tranquility –– a marked contrast to life in some of China's busy cities. Nobody wants to leave.

Finally and reluctantly, the group is persuaded to head to Xiangshan Lake where more exciting activities await them. But I am not going, it's time for me to return home. Before I do, I grab a quick word with Mao Xue, 15, one of the students from the language school. We discuss the local area and its attractions.

"It's so beautiful and so clean," she says. "People have had such a happy time here today."

She is not wrong. Zhangjiagang, I will be back soon.

Written by James Skinner

Copyright © China Daily All Rights Reserved Sponsored by Zhangjiagang Municipal Government Powered by China Daily    京ICP备10023870号-9