Since Shanghai is situated in a delta (the Yangtze Delta, to be exact) the natural landscape is extremely flat. Also because of its location on a delta and because people have been living in the region for hundreds of years, there are small ‘water towns’ in Shanghai’s suburbs and in the surrounding region. These water towns vary in size, popularity, and familiarity to Westerners. Today, Elva and I visited one of the smaller, lesser known water towns. We went to Qibao, which is mostly south and a little east of the Hongqiao airport, already itself way in the southern part of the city. Nonetheless, the water town wasn’t too far away as we were able to take a standard city bus almost all the way there and it took less than 45min.
The town itself has been largely reconstructed in old Chinese style to be more appealing to tourists. Nonetheless, it is fairly charming despite the crowds. There are about 3 or 4 bridges spanning the river, also in the old Chinese style and a few boats were taking people up or down the very short river. It seems like a win-win situation: the town can attract day visitors and generate revenue from people who go there to lunch, shop, and appreciate the old Chinese architecture, while the people can step into their past and leave the modern city without actually traveling very far. The government has done a good job making it into a special tourist spot.
Hopefully in the next few months I shall be able to take longer day trips to the other surrounding water towns such as Songjiang and Zhouzhuang.