Tongli Water Town + Flying Kites
On Sunday, Nik and I took a 2 hour bus ride to the Tongli Water town about 80km west of Shanghai that is known for its 40+ stone bridges and 20+ criss-crossing canals. It was a holiday weekend (Tomb Sweeping Day was Monday), so we expected the small tourist town to be overrun with people, and it was. However, out of the 40+ bridges, all of the people were flocking to about 5. So there was plenty of room for Nik and I to escape from the chaos and wander through this well preserved little town of water, bridges, lanes, tradition and grandeur without being disturbed.
Included in our 160rmb bus ticket was the round-trip bus fare, entry into the city itself (typically 60rmb) and admission to several traditional homes that had been preserved and turned into mini-museums. Walking through the streets of the town was definitely my favorite part, but it was amazing to walk through the courtyards, gardens, anti rooms and performance spaces of the once occupied Great Houses. I often wish that wealthy people today would spend their money wisely on significant architecture like this instead of the McMansions we see so much of in America. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of wealthy people do spend their money on amazing homes that will one day be turned into museums, but plenty don’t.
Anyways, here are my photos from the trip showing the not-so-packed areas of town, and Nik has posted several of his as well. This is a perfect day trip. We left the Shanghai Stadium tourist bus station promptly at 9am and returned around 6pm. The ride out passed by several farms that were not yet planted, but were beginning to be overrun with yellow wild flowers. In the city, there are plenty of waterside cafés and snack shops, but there are also several waterside stone benches that are perfect to people watch while eating your own picnic lunch.
On Monday, the actual holiday that happened to be our 3-year anniversary, we stayed in Shanghai. I took Nik to the flower market where we picked out a plant for our apartment, and then we went to one of our favorite outside spots, Zhongshan Park. We found a spot near the bridge that causes a lot of chaos for the little motor boats that people rent to eat lunch, and saw some pretty funny stuff. I didn’t take any photos because we have so many already, so you can look here to find them. The narrow bridge underpass did not disappoint!
After lunch and a few good chuckles, we found a spot smack dab in the middle of the main kite flying lawn and we flew a kite!!! There were three or four vendors selling all sorts of kites, and we picked the smallest one they had. It was just 5rmb (<$1), not too bad for an afternoon of entertainment.
Kite flying wasn’t the ONLY thing going on. People were picnicing, playing volleyball, playing with bubbles, reading, people watching, playing badmitton, etc. And we couldn’t go to the park without bringing along our Feather!! Nik and I kicked it around several times, and after a couple hours an actual feather vendor wandered up. This was the first time we had seen a feather vendor at a Shanghai park, so it was quite amazing. We were great for his business, because a few of the people that had been watching us all day ended up buying feathers themselves. The vendor walked over with about 15 feathers in his little bag, and walked away with just 3-4. Not too shabby! In fact, we probably should have bought one because ours is about to die, but we know of a store near the apartment that we can get a replacement for 3rmb.
After the park, we rode over to Itsuki Yakiniku for all you can eat Japanese Tappanyaki and ended the weekend with full bellies and lots of great memories.