Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Visit to Venice During My Stay In China

I have decided to stay cooped up inside for the day as the temperature outside is 120° and climbing.  I'm quite alright with that, though, as we just returned from an overnight stay in an absolutely gorgeous water town about an hour and a half north of Hangzhou.  The school has been so gracious and wanted to do something special before we left for our week of travel.  They really set the bar high for the week of travel with this side trip.

The town is called Wuzhen and has a 1,600 year history.  It's also the location of the International Internet Conference held annually.  Mark Zuckerberg even attended last year as he has tried to make headway with allowing Facebook in China.  The town itself has really only been a tourist destination for about 10 years.  Previously it was uncared for and being left to rot.  In 2003, though, they started a 3 year, multimillion dollar renovation to keep as much of the original city as possible while upgrading the buildings to modern safety standards.  The outcome was simply stunning.

Oh, and as you probably noticed in my blog post title, it is compared to Venice as it has a similar feel, but with an Asian flair.

We spent two days just roaming the town and exploring everything it had to offer.  Back in ancient times it was a fully self sufficient town, and still is today.  There were factories and workshops for everything from silk to soy sauce.  These were active factories today, so we were able to see these products being produced in their natural setting.  The most amazing was the silk.  It was absolutely fascinating seeing how the unwound the cocoons in order to spool the threads of silk.  It was tedious work being completed by older women for extremely low wages.  It gave me a new appreciation for all the silk garments I usually ignored in China, though!

The white pods are the cocoons with the silk worms inside!

Another factory we went to was a garment dying facility.  We watched as they added clay patterns to the fabric and then dyed the exposed portions.  Once the pattern was removed, a bright white space would be left behind.

This was especially memorable because as we were watching, a film maker came in and asked us to be in a propaganda film he was making for the town.  We added him on WeChat and he is going to contact us once the film is ready!  He also got some really nice shots of our group.

We were sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful place, but we couldn't stay forever.  I'll leave you with some beautiful shots from around the town.

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