tuesday I went to 乌镇 (wu1 zhen4) with my friend. it was a generic touristy thing – we went on a tour bus and got herded along with a bunch of other tourists while the tour guide kept talking into her megaphone.
my alarm went off around 6am – and I’m not a morning person. ugh. just to make things more fun, it was raining too. so about 6:45 we meet up and walk alll the way to the main gate, there a van picks us off and heads to some tour group center, piccking up some other people on the way. we got on a bus, but then had to switch to another one because there were too many people. once the bus finally set out (sometime around 8:30 I think) we just slept.
I think we were just outside 杭州 (hang2 zhou1) when we stopped at some tea place… they gave us tea and talked about it and then we had to pass by a bunch of stalls to get out. they were selling quite a variety of things – toys, clothes, food… but I just wanted to get back on the bus and sleep more.
after another nap, the bus arrived at 乌镇, and we stumbled out. I think it was vaguely around 10:30 by that point. there were lots of other tour groups there too, so we got to spend a couple of hours being herded along narrow streets, poked by umbrellas, with no chance to sit down… I didn’t really enjoy that. a few minutes in, I’d already stopped listening to the tour guide – I could understand a lot of individual words, and a few things made sense (like ‘the bus leaves at 2:15’) but most of the time I just couldn’t figure out how the sentences fit together or what they meant. trying to understand chinese is quite tiring after a while – it was enough work trying to understand what my friend said, let alone anyone else.
the place itself was fairly interesting, though. it was a little old village on a river – lots of stone everywhere, and a large amount of wood too. the water was lined by houses on both sides – stone going down in to the water, stone bridges, no dirt to be seen except in one patch of trees. the streets were quite narrow, giving the place a kind of.. medieval feel. inside some of the buildings I saw a lot of wood – nice polished wood staircases and such. there was a wood carving museum, too. and of course, gift shops all over the place.
one of the first places we were led into was showing how they made the designs on the fabric that was all over the place. basically they put a stencil over the cloth, put some white sticky stuff on, and then dyed it – with the white stuff stopping those parts from getting dyed, I guess. there were a bunch of other things – old currency, information about some famous people, etc – and it probably would have made a lot more sense if I’d been able to understand what the tour guide said. the last building was some sort of temple-like thing, with big statues of people (or they could easily have been gods). along the walls were twelve statues to correspond to the twelve signs – pig, goat, etc… I was never really interested in that stuff. by that point I also was feeling kinda sick, so I wasn’t paying attention. I decided I needed to go sit down, so we left the building, and it turned out that everyone else wandered out within the next 10 minutes anyway, and we could do what we liked after that.
since neither of us had brought real food (it’s not easy to pack a lunch in this country) we wandered along and bought some rice-things and tofu-things from some of the many stalls along the streets. we also bought some stuff made from the fabric they have – it was pretty cheap. the place was a lot more enjoyable when we weren’t stuck in the middle of a crowd, and the rain had stopped by then too. :) I saw some nice plants outside some of the houses. there was one vine with a single big gourd growing on it that looked as if it should be too heavy to be just hanging there. :) the river water actually looked clean (although it was still murky green) and there were a lot of small fish in it.
both of us were pretty tired by the time we had walked back to the main gate. conveniently, it was quarter to 2 by then anyways, so we just went and sat on the bus. I did some juggling practice, and the kids on the bus seemed fairly amused by my attempts. :) the bus actually did leave at 2:15 sharp, so we got back home before dinnertime.
I guess it went pretty well overall, but I’m *reallly* not a tourist sort of person. everyone else is off in shanghai for the weekend now, and I’m staying in my room with my AC. I did originally have plans for the weekend, but those fell through, and I think one day of tourism is quite enough for me anyways.