Visiting China’s Venice: Zhoujiajiao

I think I’ll stick to Venice… 

Leah and I were both awake early so headed out I to watch the calisthenics and Thai chi in the park before breakfast. It’s crazy how many older people there are here that are up and doing exercise in the park before 8am! Each little group has one person leading the activity and everyone’s working out in everyday clothes! There is no Nike, Adidas or reebok in site! They just seem to turn up, workout and then get on with what ever they were doing beforehand…

Some of the men were playing games on the park tables and benches, whilst the women were practising their Thai chi or doing zumba.

We popped back into the fitness centre to see if I could spot the people that i was talking to the other day but we had no such luck. Instead leah and I messed around on the fitness bars and I was challenged to pick up the bar that the guys were dead lifting (easy peasy!) I did try to lift a bar on the sandpit but could only raise it a cm ha!

After eating breakfast in the park again we headed back to the hostel to grab our big rucksacks. Today we moved on from Shanghai to a little place called zhoujiajiao (called the Chinese version of Venice).

The bus to Zhoujiajiao was relatively easy to get but we were at loss once we’d gotten off the bus. The hostel we were staying in didn’t provide us with any directions and google maps doesn’t work in China so we had no idea where to go. As soon as you leave the bus station in zhoujiajiao you’re hounded by rickshaw drivers trying to get you to use them- one man even followed us down the street! Luckily we found a tourist centre and a lady working there gave us rough directions.

With a years worth of supplies on our back we headed along the route that the women suggested but got lost in the maze of stalls and streets that make up zhoujiajiao. Because zhoujiajiao is on a river all of the shops, stalls and people are on top of one another with little breaks for bridges that are full of expensive gondola rides.

By this point in the day it was already mid afternoon. We were really hungry (we were all out of snacks!) and hot, and there was a smell coming from most of the food stalls of a hideously sweet but burnt dead thing! It was disgusting but it must’ve been popular because it was literally everywhere we went in the town!

We’d been asking people in the street and shops for directions for the last half hour with no luck until we popped into a small hut (we think it might be another Tourist office). In there was the nicest women that we’ve met to date! She originally thought that our hostel was just across the water way so gave us directions but when we got to where she said there was only a garden. She saw this from her shop and jumped on a gondola and climbed over too us where she then walked us back through all the streets and stalls we had previously passed to where our hostel actually was! Such a nice women! She even helped us check in as the hostel owners did not speak any English.

We’d booked our own private room for the night so we dumped our bags, cranked up the air conditioning before heading out to explore the town (without carrying atleast 35kg on our backs).

The only way that I can describe the town is like a fake Chinese Venice…

All the streets and stalls sold practically the exact same products, the majority of restaurants even served the same food on the same menu!!! The horrible smell kept sneaking us on us too! We luckily found somewhere to eat for lunch (leah had beef noodles with one tiny piece of beef in, and I had vegetarian noodle soup).

Most of the restaurants had fish tanks out front where you could see what you were going to eat before you ordered (if you ate fish). There was even live turtles in little boxes being sold as food for ¥120!! Horrible!

We headed back to our room to wash off the day and smell before heading out hestitantly for dinner. We’d been looking at all the menus during the day and none of them seemed like that great of a choice…

We settled on restaurant by the main bridge for dinner because it looked pretty busy and over looked the main canal.. Big mistake! The food was the worst we’ve had so far. I ended up eating two bowls of white rice and leah only had a bowl of egg fried rice. We’d ordered a tofu dish to share and it was actually vile, we only managed two bites each! And we ordered a vegetable dish that never came…

All was not a loss though. After a meal like that alcohol was needed so we went to one of the nice bars by this resturant, ordered a beer each and chilled for the evening.

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