“Not all those who wander are lost.”
Our challenge this week is to portray habits: “the stuff of every day – places we go, things we do, people we see”. Luckily for me (and in large part thanks to my adventure-loving husband), that means travel! These past 2 months, Travels and Trifles readers have seen my posts from our incredible journey to China. Here I am, above, with two young Chinese girls who very politely asked to have their photo taken with me. Within seconds, a line of other young Chinese girls decided they too needed a shot with me and the moment turned into a 15 minute frenzy 🙂 It’s a fun memory for me that shows how unusual it is for the Chinese to see westerners, since 85% of the tourists in China are actually Chinese.
One of the loveliest parts of our China travels was our visit to Zhouzhuang, otherwise known as “the Venice of the East”. We were amazed at how similar it was, with Chinese boats piloted by local residents instead of gondolas and gondoliers.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
Augustine of Hippo
About an hour’s drive from the brilliant city of Shanghai, Zhouzhuang is a small village interspersed with lovely canals, walkways, and alleys bustling with local life. Predominantly colored in soft creamy whites and cool, soothing greens, the homes and waterways promote a peaceful feeling reminiscent of what life may have felt like in the long ago past.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
Named as one of the world’s Top 10 most beautiful towns by CNN in 2012, it was coincidentally featured in the China Daily newspaper soon after we visited. Chinese tourists were scattered about, and the tea houses and shops were doing a nice business, but happily for us the town had not yet hit the mainstream of foreign visitors.
“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
We had a lovely boat ride through many of the canals, while our oarswoman sang one or two of her favorite Chinese songs. We saw life along the waterside much as we did in Venice on a gondola ride several years ago.
“Travel brings power and love back into your life.”
After our ride we walked the alleys and browsed the shops – finding the shopkeepers friendly and not at all pushy. Many of the shops featured hand-crafted items which were being made as we strolled by. There were weavers, woodcutters, furniture makers and silk merchants creating beautiful duvets..
“To travel is to live.”
Hans Christian Andersen
“It is better to travel well than to arrive.”
We saw boats in many shapes and colors. Some, clearly designed to serve the tourists, were slowly propelled by poles along the waterways and under the beautiful bridges for which the town is known. Others were obviously working fishing vessels – nets clearly displayed and at the ready.
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
“The journey itself is my home.”
If one is going to have boats, one must have a boat house as well, no? Below, the fishing nets hang to dry on the poles above. The structure is a great example of the creative uses the Chinese have found for the sturdy qualities of bamboo.
“Travel brings wisdom only to the wise. It renders the ignorant more ignorant than ever.”
It was a lovely day on the water, quite different from anything else we’d seen in China – and a world away from the ultra-modern city of Shanghai, which we also loved. Somehow, no matter how long we were there, China seemed still to have a few surprises for us along the way!
“Roam abroad in the world, and take thy fill of its enjoyments before the day comes when thou must quit it for good.”
Sadly (at least for me), this about wraps up my series of posts dedicated to our adventure in China. It was a fascinating month for me, and I appreciate your sharing it with me. Now it’s time to get back to life on Kiawah – at least for a while 🙂
“A wise man travels to discover himself.”
James Russell Lowell
Traveling is my habit, what’s yours? To see what some others’ habits might be, click here.