Wuzhen is one of the ancient water towns on the Hangzhou to Beijing Canal, with a history of over 1,200 years. In 1991, Wuzhen was authorised as the Provincial Town of History and Culture, so ranking it first amongst the six ancient towns south of the Yangtze river.
Wuzhen, and life within the old town, is little different today, then it was 500 years ago, only the people have changed.
Fortunately Wuzhen has not yet surrendered totally to the almighty tourism dollar, and the town retains its history and culture. It is indeed, a living piece of Chinese history.
Unfortunately it also has its pollution problems but efforts are underway to address these issues. As an Australian resident of this peaceful town, the green/grey water is difficult to accept, but unfortunately, this is the colour of most rivers in this, and increasingly, more parts of China.
Wuzhen has two old town areas “Dong Zha” (East) and “Xi Zha” (West). What’s the difference? The East old town area is still lived in as it has been for more than 1,000 years.
The advantage of this, is that visitors can see people, working and living, as they have for generations. The disadvantage, is that many of these homes need renovation work, as some slowly sink into disrepair.
The West old town area is a tourist town, totally restored to its original elegance, and showing the full glory of 1,000 years of history and culture.
Which to see? See them both; they each have their own special charm.
To see some of my images of Wuzhen visit: www.wuzhen.terrywchina.com
No matter where you wander in the old town areas, east or west, the visitor is surrounded by history. After more than one thousand years, there are many secrets and surprises for the intrepid traveller.
Along with access to the many museums on site, granted via the entrance ticket; the visitor to the old town area can simply poke around, to uncover a wealth of ancient charm and history, everywhere they walk, including what must be one of the world’s largest woks.
There are still people on site, creating silk thread and cloth, the same way their ancestors have, for hundreds of years. If your stomach is ready, you can try the local fermented rice spirits, definitely designed to wake up the most frozen toes on a cold winter’s day.
Both old town areas are full of eateries and craft shops, plying their wares, as they have for many centuries. A visit to the old towns is not just to look at the beautiful old buildings and canals; although they alone are worth the visit; but to experience a way of life still existing today, as it has for centuries.