Zhouzhuang

Zhouzhuang
Known as a collection of beauty, Zhouzhuang, once called Zhenfengli, is an ancient water town of Kunshan City in Jiangsu Province and where rivers and lakes abound. It is located between the cities Shanghai and Suzhou. The town has stood up well through the years, 900 to be specific, and remains as it was so long ago. The typical style and features of the water town and even its inhabitants' way of life remains unchanged. The houses built by the streams have sidewalks, which have naturally evolved into streets used for transportation, together along with the water lanes. Overhead stone bridges span over the water lanes, providing convenient passage for the local people. Murmuring streams flow under small bridges and courtyards. These bridges and courtyards are each surrounded by dwelling quarters, which are typical features of Zhouzhuang and even the whole of East China.

Zhouzhuang is like a water nymph standing on a lake. The layout of its water lanes is perfectly arranged so that it looks like the Chinese character "#". Many stone bridges are built over them, linking up the households on either side of each stream. These stone bridges are very old, 14 of which were built between the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The most representative among them are the Twin Bridge, Fu'an Bridge, Zhenfeng Bridge and Fuhong Bridge. There is a beautiful saying that is popular among the folks in China-"the Heavens have their Paradise while the earth is proud of having Suzhou and Hangzhou." Zhouzhuang is just like Water Lily in-between.

Moreover, Zhouzhuang boasts rich cultural resources like Grandmother Tea, and such simple local customs as fast boating.

People of Zhouzhuang have a way of drinking tea. They use ancient tea sets, boil water in pottery or earthen jars, and have bamboo slices or branches as fuel. Several minutes after washing the tea, they pour on it boiled water. By such means, the tea, beautiful in color, is both fragrant and tasteful. But why is it called Grandmother Tea? People used to see groups of old women sitting together and drinking tea leisurely. It is hence the name.

Fast boating goes far back to the Qing dynasty, originally started to raise the morale of soldiers. Later on, people held races on holidays, in weddings, and during the time of harvests. At present, travel boats are provided for tourists to do sightseeing around.
Bamboo ware and bronze braziers have also won enormous acclaim for Zhouzhuang. The durable bamboo ware is known far and wide for its fine workmanship, while the exquisite bronze braziers of many shapes once won a prize in the South Pacific Industrial Expo and the reputation of "Zhouzhuang Braziers".

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