Zhu Jia Jiao
Pu An Road Station 普安路 – Zhu Jia Jiao 朱家角: 12¥
35mins-1hr (traffic dependant)
Sights: Ke Zhi Garden,
Qing Dynasty Post Office,
Shen Ming Bridge,
Town God Temple.
This week, with my mum here in Shanghai, we took a half-day trip across the city to the water town Zhu Jia Jiao.
I’ve managed to get by for nine months referring to the town in a nonchalant jumble of Z sounds and a vague hand-wave (with any old tone thrown in for good measure), and this trip involved a full day of avoiding it like the plague, twisting my mouth into unintelligible Chinese when it was only explicitly necessary.
Unsurprisingly, that was fairly often.
It’s a speedy bus journey out of the city on the huge concrete flyovers that head south-west towards Shanghai province’s inland lakes and rivers, and the bouncy journey on China-style suspension is tempered only by the no standing system (I take a seated China-style snooze).
ZhuJiaJiao is a different feel to Suzhou, with its Old Town constrained within a 15min radius of sharp, twisting alleys, packed with noisy sellers and nosier tourists, but in the blazing sun it certainly has its own charm – particularly in its two storey canal-side tea houses and restaurants.
A maze of traditional wooden shutters, whitewashed walls, and dubiously constructed bamboo scaffolding that marked large-scale maintenance of it’s traditional architecture, the Old Town is a strange mix of the locals everyday life, adapted to the hundreds of camera-wielding tourists that march through every day between 9AM-5PM.
After hours, I imagine, is entirely more pleasant.
With a slow-paced wander around the Old Town, Mum and I get a noodle and wonton soup lunch upstairs in a quiet restaurant. I’d suggest checking out what the upstairs of your chosen lunch establishment is like before committing, lest you end up like us, with our windows bizarrely facing over the street and dry, latticed scaffolding instead of the picturesque tourist canal.
By the end of the day, I did reluctantly learn to pronounce ZhuJiaJiao.
You know, that pretty water town place, she says, gesticulating vaguely.