Thursday, June 24, 2010
We had a great trip to Xitang last week. It's an ancient water town (meaning lots of canals and bridges) a couple hours outside of Shanghai by bus. The entrance to the town opens into a wide open park before snaking into a maze of narrow alleyways, bridges, and shops along the canals. The water is lined with shops, restaurants, and cafes, and is pretty well set up for tourists. But, because we went on a Tuesday, the villagers were busy going about their normal lives, hence the pictures of all of the laundry hanging out to dry. It was a great town for wandering, which we did a lot of. We also enjoyed an incredible lunch in a small restaurant with a view of the water.
Despite its hundreds of years of history, Xitang is currently best known for being the site of some of the filming of Mission Impossible III, and large signs with Tom Cruise's picture can be found all over town. The movie actually tries to pass off this sleepy little town as being residential Shanghai. Certainly idyllic, and definitely far from the truth.
The most exciting part of the day was getting home, though. We were told when we bought bus tickets there that there would be ample return tickets available for sale when we get into town. However, it being a national holiday, the tickets sold more quickly than usual and were gone by the time we got there. Instead, we spent a long time haggling with private cabs before finding one who would drive us to the nearest Metro stop (thankfully, Shanghai's system stretches far beyond the city itself.) It was the most expensive, and longest, cab drive we've had here, though. And, our driver went out of his way to avoid the toll road, which meant a lot of meandering through tiny country roads, past curious farmers and their fields. At one point, the driver got lost and had to retrace his steps to get his bearings. All in all, not too unpleasant, but we were both very happy to make it to the stop!
More pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/5651.