Continuing with my 2011 trip to China, we’re moving on to none other than Wuzhen (烏鎮), a historic town know for its six ancient towns in which has scenic bridges, canals, and wood carvings. It’s a scenic tourist spot, and I found it charming with its quaint, Venetian-like layout.
Upon arriving in Wuzhen after a 3-plus hour drive from Huangshan, we visited a silk workshop, as the town used to be a major hub for the textile industry, specializing in silk. We toured the building, observing how silk was made, starting with the silk worms (tons of them white and translucent working diligently in their compartments) to spinning and producing them by the skilled hand.
At first glance, silk might appear delicate and fragile, but in fact it is very durable; the texture is very interesting, as you could stretch it as far as you can and it won’t break at all. What makes silk even more wonderful is that it is light and cool, able to keep you from stuffing up in the hot, summer heat (which was exactly how I was feeling then in my cotton/polyester clothes). Even though we only spent about an hour (maybe two) in the workshop, the experience made me stop and appreciate how great we as Chinese people have come up with such wonderful inventions, such as silk or gunpowder (although the latter is not used very well nowadays). In a way, it gave me a sense of ancestral pride (go ancestors!). 😉
After the silk workshop, we headed out for food and I admit I ate way too much to the point that I got a stomachache; it certainly didn’t help me enjoy the rest of the day’s tour in town, from the boat ride to the evening stroll back to the hotel. Never again…
Regardless, we encountered the famous “Bridge within a Bridge,” which was built in a way to evoke a full moon (from the curve of the bridge to its inverted reflection in the water). I found it super fascinating, as the whole concept combines nature and architecture together in a sort of harmony. It’s not only Western society that can be poetic, you know…
We spent the night over in Wuzhen, and the next day we continued our visit of the town. We wandered along the narrow streets along the canals, taking in the tranquil nature of the water and trees.
Additionally, we popped into a few small museums; the most notable one for me was the Chinese Foot-binding Culture Museum, in which it showcased the long (and painful) tradition of, evidently, foot-binding. We walked through galleries of antique slippers which were worn by women back in the day, and were so small that at first, they appeared to be for children. I know that it was tradition and was used to signify wealth and beauty, but still, it’s sad: girls as young as five years old were forced into this practice which ultimately damaged their feet, making them unable to walk for the rest of their lives. They ended up confined to the chair, which the feminist in me finds oppressive. I can’t imagine ever having my feet bound, especially since I enjoy walking and running, let alone being free to travel around the world.
Overall, perhaps it’s my Western way of thinking that foot-binding is unjust (as well as the fact I live in the present day), but still, I don’t agree with it at all. Thank goodness that it was banned at the turn of the 20th century!
After we toured the small museums, we were pretty much done with our visit to Wuzhen. Although it was a short stay, I still enjoyed the quaint, historic beauty of it all. Learned a lot more on aspects which I was familiar with when I was younger (e.g. silk and foot-binding), and it was great that I got to see them firsthand instead of in school textbooks.
Look out for the last installment of my China trip, as well as for “Throwback Travels” (so soon, so sad!). Next up: Suzhou, China! 🙂
— The Finicky Cynic
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