From Guangzhou to Shanghai via Wuzhen water town

Our China visa is for 20 days so after 8 days we made tracks Eastward. First stop Guangzhou, a large modern city near Hong Kong. We sort of muddle our way through China, never completely sure that we are doing the right thing or that we understand what’s going on – but somehow it always works out and we end up where we want to be. We rely on equal parts planning and helpful strangers with some luck thrown in…

A modern city but miles from home
A modern city but miles from home
The old Colonial part of town
The old Colonial part of town

Guangzhou is supposedly one of the best places to eat in China and home to Dim Sum. The receptionist where we were staying recommended a dim sum restaurant nearby where we had one of our best experiences. Not only was the food delicious but being the only westerners we were welcomed with such interest from the staff and some of the nearby diners that the whole visit became extraordinary.

Tucking into a feast...
Tucking into a feast…

The most difficult thing about Guangzhou was leaving… Not only did we have to queue for 45 minutes to buy train tickets the day before however we spent 30 minutes in a steaming ‘scrum’ trying to show our passports and enter the station to get on our train. It was thick with people, all trying to catch their trains and you couldn’t just go with the flow. You actively had to keep pushing towards the ID check while trying to stop people overtaking you. In the middle of all this, a guy was letting people climb over a barrier and enter the station that way. We saw him take money from some people and maybe it’s their way to deal with people about to miss their train?!

Mayhem...
Mayhem…

Apart from this we’ve found it relatively easy to buy tickets and navigate the busses and trains as long as we’ve done our research in advance and allow plenty of time.

We took the night train to Hangzhou, 200km outside Shanghai and from there a bus to Wuzhen, a famous ‘water town’, also known as the Venice of China.

Map of Wuzhen
Map section of Wuzhen

It’s located at the Southern end of the world’s longest man made canal. Built hundreds of years ago for transport and irrigation of rice fields, it stretches all the way to Beijing. Wuzhen is just one of a number of canal towns but we were told it was the largest and best maintained / restored.

When we arrived my disappointment was clear as we learnt that the nicest / oldest part of town is cut off from the rest with a $24 pp entry fee at a main entrance which gave it a kind of theme-park feel, what no candy-floss, yes there was. Instinctively I looked for a bouncing mascot to come along and have its photo taken with us. Just thousands of Chinese tourists taking photos of themselves using their selfie-sticks at every opportune moment. I thought we were the only westerners there but during the day we spotted one or two other couples milling about.

Selfie-mania
Selfie-mania

The old town was really beautiful with far more impressive buildings than we expected, so it must have been an important centre at its peak. I really need to read up on some of these places. There was no information provided with the entry ticket or anywhere else for that matter. We normally rely on google for information but google is blocked in China, so there you have it. We wondered around in ignorant bliss…

Everybody had to dress for weather
Everybody had to dress for weather

The rain didn’t take away from how beautiful a town it was and we spent a good 8 hours walking, sitting, taking photos and Malene being asked by Chinese tourists if they could have their photo taken with her. I guess she was more of an interesting sight than the historical buildings and canals.

Traditional soy sauce production
Traditional soy sauce production

In retrospect we might have skipped Wuzhen given it wasn’t a normal functioning town with its residents devoted to tourism rather than normal day to day activities.

Houses outside the restored area
Houses outside the restored area
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6 comments

  1. Gavin & Trish says:

    Hi Guys, it’s been very interesting following your journey. Lots of great experiences already. Our fighting the flies and wind on the way up the west coast are dwarfed by your battles against the human tide at some Chinese rail stations.
    Your photos are great, Hanlong looks beautiful. We are at Eighty mile beach our 12th stop (between 1-4 days) heading north. Karajini was great. Had a few mechanical caravan problems to sort out, managed them all, nothing major. Everything is covered in red dust .
    Look at Viber or Whatsapp if you can I will drop you a line or photo from time to time.
    Travel safe ,love G/T

    • Hey Gav and Trish
      What a pleasant surprise and a coincidence, it was just the night before when I was asking big Kev if he had heard from you, and presto we get your message. Hope you guys are having the time of your lives, it’s so beautiful up there but don’t forget to give my regards to the flies. Nice to see that you have a few maintenance issues of your own, me too have to oil the wheels on the backpack, think too much sand got into them back in Cambodia.
      Otherwise all good so far, we survived China, which was great but the food was a big challenge, what I would have given for a chico roll that’s how bad it was, fortunately making up for it here in Japan.
      Keep well and fun travels.
      All the best Nick and Malene

  2. Evangeline and Aren says:

    What!!?? You visited the home of dim sum without us?! It’s an outrage. The slippery ones look great.
    Loving the blog and the photos. We miss you!

  3. Roy says:

    Forgot to follow you blog last few weeks and completely missed commenting on your China trip I could have given you a few tips to get arrested .You should have been there for the 4 June celebrations…. I am allowed to say that as it is my birthday as well . Looked great and now your in Japan .Special request more hello kitty pics please, all looks amazing .THink of the rest of the world ( us )working while you guys a slobbing all looks good keep up the good work xxroy

    • nickyiannop@gmail.com says:

      Hey Roy
      Great to see you are back, we need as many blog followers as possible to keep us spurred on, not totally true we enjoy it too given its the only real task we have that needs doing other than choosing our next destination and accommodation. How did people cope before the net was invented. On that note I must admit I thought of you many times when in China, no wonder you spent months in hospital, most food I found not palatable with the exception of Guangzhou which was Cantonese food like dim sum. Not sure how much weight I lost 1kg or so over the two weeks living on rice and noodles but I also caught a cold as a result, not two collapsed lungs like some wise guy I know. Happy birthday for yesterday and will keep thinking of you working hard.
      Visited a bonsai guru today, loved it.
      Cheers
      Nick and Malene

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