We hired a car today to take us on a day trip to the "water villages."
Our first stop was Tongli.
On the way, we stopped to have some dumplings for breakfast!
(The pictures are a little hazy because of the grease cloud around the stand.)
The drive was about two hours long, and the scenery was incredible: acres of green farmland and local farmers. Just gorgeous!
We arrived in Tongli and the first thing we saw was this gentleman playing some traditional music in the park.
I love him!
The main street into the city.
There are little waterways all through the city and many locals use boats as a way to get around.
It was hotter than hell (and maybe even more humid). I stripped down to a tank top (and I never roll around in a tank top) and I was still completely drenched. Josh's entire back was soaked. I almost took a picture to prove the point, but I thought that would be gross.
So, when I saw this guy, I wanted to grab his watermelon and run for it!
These birds are trained to catch fish and drop them back in the boat! Pretty good trick!
More pics of Tongli.
So incredibly serene and beautiful!
We said goodbye to Tongli and piled back in the car to drive to another water village called Zhouzhuang, a city known as "Venice of the East."
To get in, you walk over a long bridge to the city, located on a little island.
Flowers at the end of the bridge.
Our first stop was Quanfu Temple. Quanfu Temple is a Taoist temple, built in the eleventh century, that is completely surrounded by water (Nanhu Lake).
It may be my favorite temple on our trip so far. The water surrounding the temple makes for a tremendously serene and spiritual scene.
There were turtles all around the temple. Some of the temples we visited had turtles you can buy to set free!
Just spectacular! After leaving the temple, we started in toward the main part of the city. In both Tongli and Zhouzhuang, there were a ton of shops and stands selling a very famous delicacy in the water villages: pig hoof/leg! Apparently, it was a favorite snack of several emperors.
Zhouzhuang is so picturesque.
Zhouzhuang is famous for its bridges. This one was built so that the reflection in the water is always a straight line. Pretty clever!
After we left Zhouzhuang, we piled back in the car and headed back to Shanghai. We were so exhausted. I must have sweat a gallon of water (we joked that we were our own water villages) and we were both sunburned and dehydrated (although happy to have spent the day in such gorgeous towns). We got to the hotel a little after 7:00 and immediately took long, cold showers.
Since this is technically a vacation, we decided to take the night off. I headed to the spa for an incredible Chinese-style massage. It was the best massage I have ever had! (At least, the first 45 minutes were. After that, I fell asleep!)
It was an early night for us. Friday is our last full day in China, and it is the first day we have no set plans. I think we will probably just poke around, shop, and maybe try out the night life! More soon . . .