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Wuzhen: A classic southern Yangtze water town

By Bruce Connolly | | Updated: 2019-04-10 13:57
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The Grand Canal and a local waterway at Wuzhen [Photo by Bruce Connolly/]

My approach into the old town area had initially been along quiet lanes where wooden boats lay tied up alongside stone quays. However, literally through a narrow alley the scene transformed into one of busy, bustling tourism. Yes it was busy, crowded with pleasure-seeking visitors, many snacking on local delicacies. However, away from pedestrianized Xizha Street I found a profusion of quiet locations where I could happily engage in my photographic passions. In many ways the crowds added to the vibrant and friendly feel of the town.

Initially I headed to the arched Tongji Bridge. There, the views north along Wangjinhe waterway were magnificent. Below my location on the bridge, many wooden boats lay tied up in front of numerous cafes with outdoor waterside tables. Bailian Pagoda dominated the scene, close to Wang Jinqiao Bridge. Beyond spread a branch of the Grand Canal. It was a location where I could easily have spent hours just letting time drift past. Instead, I retraced my steps, back to the busy alley, stopping every few minutes to look into tranquil wood-decorated teahouses, restaurants and shops with the Xishi River framed by their windows. Passages between buildings led to stone built landing stages and steps leading down to the waters, where people sat or had personal photography done. Some dressed in loose-flowing traditional red or white dress while holding decorative paper fans. From one such spot I captured the setting sun while wooden boats carried visitors along waters cast in an early evening glow, a scene reminiscent of traditional paintings. From vantage points I would admire the declining sun rays warming up red-colored walls of larger Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) or Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) buildings, possibly former meeting halls or temples.

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