Weekly Photo Challenge – A Habitual Traveler visits Zhouzhuang, The Venice of China

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

J.R.R. Tolkien



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.”

Gustave Flaubert

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.”

Ernest Hemingway

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.”

Matsuo Basho

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.”

Joe Abercrombie

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.



109 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge – A Habitual Traveler visits Zhouzhuang, The Venice of China

    • Many thanks Bente – it was a wonderful adventure – we loved every minute. Unbelievable that in a trip this complex and this long, we never had a single problem! China is quite the place to see 🙂

  1. I got back from China about a month ago.. I loved it. And this was my favorite place. It felt like stepping back in time. Your photos are gorgeous and bring me straight back there.. thank you 🙂

  2. Stunning indeed! China is a great country which continues to amaze the world. Your photography is brilliant and the captions and brief write-ups educative. Thank you Tina.

  3. My job necessitated a lot of traveling, for a lot of years and family vacations to distant places were necessary to escape. Now that I don’t have to travel, I greatly appreciate staying home. But your beautiful photographic essays reveal the importance of traveling in expanding one’s perspective and vision. You almost make me want to dust off my passport.
    Thanks for this excellent post.

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  6. Amazing photos, and amazing place! Cities like these, that have waterways instead of streets are so fascinating!

    I thought it was funny and cute there were people who wanted their photo taken with you 🙂

    • It really was fascinating. We’ve seen several now, including Venice and Bangkok but this one was special because it was such a tiny place that time had clearly left behind 🙂 Thanks for your visit and comment!

    • Many thanks Ron. Agree w you on the day on the water! We actually had a bit of drizzle the day we were on the canal but only for a short while and you’re right, the cloudy skies were much better for the mid-afternoon photography! Thanks for your visit and comment.

  7. Seems like a good habit to me, Tina! And though I haven’t kept up on all your posts on your China experience, with those I have seen and read of, you have represented a beautiful country and culture, and helped bridge the gulf of misunderstanding between east and west. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • My pleasure Uday! It was a great way for me to reinforce my ever-shortening memory!! Appreciate your traveling along!

      Sent from my iPad

  8. And life on Kiawah isn’t too bad! Thank you for this travelogue. So close to Shanghai, and yet so seemingly tranquil. And the traditional architecture still being used. Pretty amazing. (Now I’m going to go play catch up and see what I’ve missed lately!)

  9. Tina, thanks so much for sharing these pictures of your China trip. It certainly cures some of my stereotypes and makes me realize just how vast this country is and how diverse. I love those village pictures, so unique.

  10. You started off with one of my most favorite quotes! Love Tolkien! I also have a good friend named Joe Abercrombie. So I was smiling before i even got to most of the photos 🙂 I’d never heard of the Venice of the East; thank you for the introduction. Your photos are wonderful and I particularly like Beneath the Bridge, Tranquility, and On The Job. Fabulous post!

  11. The first photo of you with the Chinese girls is fascinating. Living in such a cosmopolitan city as I do with people of all races it is hard to imagine what it must be like to see somebody who is considered “different.” In LA if you saw somebody with purple skin and two green heads nobody would even blink!!! Therefore, it is so important to understand cultural differences when travelling… very nice post!

  12. OMG….R U kidding….I sooooo appreciate being invited on the journey…..absolutely fascinating!!!
    These shots are breathtaking…..who knew that China had a “Venice’ like place???? I have truly learned so much on this journey….I so look forward to the next….!! Thank You friend!! hug.

  13. Wow…you have introduced me to areas I had never heard of and I am grateful. These are such enlightening photos and quotes. I love the last photo: calm creams and rippling water accented by the red hanging lanterns. As always, thanks for sharing.

  14. Wat a fabulous journey you have taken us on! Thank you… I love that your last post was so peaceful and reflective… Until next time…. Linda

  15. There have been many great minds that never traveled far from their home; i.e., Emily Dickinson, Nietzsche; and Thoreau said that nothing was to be gained from traveling abroad but one should do it anyway if they had the opportunity. I’ve met people who have traveled greatly and seemed to have learned nothing from it. I guess it all depends on the person. However, traveling seems to at least give a person something to talk about. People who are interesting will talk about their travels, people who are bores never mention it.

    • Hence the Abercrombie quote Gayle! There are tourists, and then there are travelers. I hope I fall into the latter category by respecting the people and the customs in each of the places I visit. Appreciate your stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  16. Stunning gallery of photos. It reminded me so much of Bruges. What a wonderful opportunity to have experienced such a special place. Enjoyed the quotes as well as they are so fitting with the wonderful privilege of travel.

    • Many thanks Hechters! Yes, I was in Bruges many, many years ago and had totally forgotten. Thanks for the reminder! And yes, travel really is a privilege isn’t it? Appreciate your stopping by and thoughtful comment.

    • Thanks Terri, it’s a lovely little out-of-the-way place for which I can thank our Travel Agent, as I’d never heard of it either 🙂 I’m sure he put it in because he worked so hard to make sure my photography needs were met!! Appreciate your visit and comment!

    • WAAAY more laid back for sure! The only similarity was the canals, and there were far fewer of those than in Venice. But maybe a smaller, quieter version 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and for your lovely comment.

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  18. I appreciate you allowing me to travel with you through your wonderful photographs and well chosen words. I love the quotes on this post. Particularly the first and last! I have thoroughly enjoyed travel in China with you Tina, as I know it is one place I will never go to. And what a great habit to have 🙂
    Jude xx

      • I think you should try to find a market. These pictures are quite well done.

        I haven’t been on WordPress in a while … at least to read blogs. This post has piqued my interest & I’m going to hang out in your neighborhood for a while. I like your writing voice and your pictures.

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