My last post about Zhujiajiao Water Town showcased traditional Chinese heritage through food, but the sprawling water town actually incorporates modernity and tradition in its storefronts, architecture, and general scene.
The straightness of the roofs in these pictures demonstrates the mixing of Chinese and western culture apparent even in this relatively exotic setting. Chinese roofs are curved because it is believed, in the Chinese folk religion, that evil spirits can only travel in straight lines.
Bridges with many very low steps are traditional to China.
A more regular bridge. Horses (and bikes) can be led up the smooth slopes in the middle of the steps.
So are these dried luffa (think loofah). These plants, in the cucumber family, are dried out to become natural scrubbing tools for dishes.
One of those activities you have to do once just to say you did it – a fish pedicure in a dedicated spa. I haven’t mustered the will to do this…but I’ll have many opportunities to return to China in the future.
These businesses are an idiosyncratic part of Chinese culture and are more than just a tourist trap. “Historical” costume photoshoots. Don’t worry about accusations of cultural appropriation – the Chinese people are enthusiastic about foreigners wearing their “ethnic” clothing.
The results are usually pretty tacky, but at 10 RMB a picture (about $1.50), it’s another experience worth doing once just to say you’ve done it.
Later, in Shanghai, I would fork over 100 times that price (1000 RMB) for a very professional, non-tacky photoshoot, but that’s a story for another day.
We loved seeing this stone lion being used as a support for a messenger bag (the “man purse” is common among white-collar workers).
As well as arts and crafts.
No-Face from Spirited Away!
We had a short conversation with this bird. It didn’t know how to say much beyond “the pretty girl is so beautiful” but its pronunciation was on point.
After walking through a residential area with eclectic Chinese stores…
…we found ourselves in a decidedly glossier area.
There were many large-scale, outdoor art installations.
I’m obsessed with this mural which incorporated the pointed roof into a conical Asian hat. So creative!
Explosions of color were everywhere.
While not romantic and dreamy like the old part of Zhujiajiao, this new area was beautiful as well.
A break from tradition was readily apparent in the international food options.
Iceason (pronounced “I season”) is a popular ice cream chain among dieters, because a serving of its low-calorie ice cream’s calories are comparable to that of an apple.
And apparently eating this will give me the perfect physique of a Greek marble statue? Sign me up!
For those interested in more eye-catching frozen desserts, these molded novelties are widely available as well.
A lot of this clean, gray new area was not yet fully developed or populated. I hope to come back and see what Zhujiaijao is like after this new area starts thriving!