Ancient water towns – Zhujiajiao

Let’s take a break from the summer travel writing and catch up with some current events. Last weekend , well yesterday , I took a trip to the relaxing water town of Zhujiajiao 朱家角. Zhujiajiao is an easy day trip from Shanghai but it would be worth it to stay the night in one of the hostels there. We only had time (and money) for a mere day trip but it was all good. Will most likely head back to check out the annual October music festival held there.

This ancient water village is set waayyy out in the western Shanghai suburb of Qingpu. But it’s relatively easy to make it there. Go to People’s Square and find Pu’An Lu 普安路 by HuaiHaiZhong Lu  淮海中路 , it can be found by going to exit one of People’s Square metro station and continuing south (straight) out from the station and crossing HuaiHaiZhong Lu. After you find Pu’An Lu hop on one of the pink Hùzhū Gāosù Kuàixiàn 沪朱高速快线 buses for 12 kuai and you are on your way! The buses leave at 30 minute intervals and the last one returns to Shanghai at 10pm. After about an hour the bus pulls into the Zhujiajiao bus station and you are only a short walk away from the ancient town.

Zhujiajiao ancient town is like a trip to the past. Cobble-stone streets, two-story white stores/ residences line the streets , red lanterns adorn the walls , boats float down the canals albeit with tourists,  underneath the stone bridges, and old families crowd around in their courtyards playing mahjong. This town has a history of more than 1700 years and sometimes you can feel like you really are away from modern times , though that changes quickly when one spots a hardly inconspicuous coffee shop.

You may guess from the title that the main attraction of this town is water. Zhujiajiao lies at a natural conjunction of a few rivers and the rivers were harnessed into a series of canals which crisscross the town. The canals bring about the necessities of bridges ,which  Zhujiajiao also happens to be famous for, how about that? Around 34 stone and wooden bridges are scattered through the town and I must admit make for some excellent photos. One can also opt to buy either a 90rmb 80rmb or 30rmb ticket which grants you access to 9 . 8 . or 4 respectively little museums and attractions , including an imperial post office , various temples , and a botanical knowledge center. We choose to just go in for free and walk around the town (strapped for cash at this point in time). It would also be worthwhile to cruise in a boat but again no cash money.

What attracted me to this town also attracts many artists, musicians , and others of a slightly bohemian streak who seek to escape the pressure of living in the city. Those sick of trying to land a job as a corporate lackey , feeling suicidal from all the fluorescent lights and cramped cubicles, and tired of the cramped commute in rush hour , come to Zhujiajiao for an easier, more relaxed, more fulfilling life, selling art , playing punk rock shows , etc.Which has led to a concentration of cool bars , coffee shops, and bookshops in the center of ancient town. Cool places to check out include the Book Room , Bum Care ,Heima (a Scandinavian bar/lounge,  and my favorite Zher. Zher is a cool underground punk bar/ chill out lounge , which has a stage set up and comfy couches to watch the shows from. Also cheap beers (20RMB Beerlao!!) and a huge selection of Belgium beers.

If you like seafood this is definitely a good town for eating. Check out the mini river lobsters!. A plate just loaded with the juicy suckas. MMMMMMMM!!!

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