Zhujiajiao Water Town

Tuesday I took a day trip with the Shanghai Expatriates Association to Zhujiajiao Water Town. (Don’t ask me to pronounce that.) This group is mostly comprised of non-Americans so I met women from Sweden, Poland, Holland, Singapore, Japan, etc.

We left from Shanghai Centre where I live, (nice!) and drove to Qingpu museum which is in the old part of Shanghai.  This museum has artifacts (lots of pots in various shapes and sizes) dating from about 6000 years ago to present.

Foreigners are so much more exciting than old broken pots!

There were a few things besides pots

Not sure what this is, but I thought it was pretty

The most interesting exhibit was about the Ho Family, who over 29 generations has produced 350 physicians! A few were poets to begin with, but finally succumbed to the family destiny to become a doctor. Wow. Pressure, much?

Next we went to a park that had been created by Ma Wenqing in the 20’s. This park might have been featured on MTV’s Teen Crib’s if such a show had existed back then. Ma Wenqing had included everything in his park:

A tea house

A place for his daughter's to play chess, do embroidery, and play music so that they would be more desirable wives. (This is a Chinese chess table and a musical instrument in the background)

Natural stone sculptures are highly prized, especially white stone. Businesses selling stones still exist today and are very important here.

This pavillion has hundreds of bats carved into it. The bats symbolize coins or money. The woman in front is Anneliese from Sweden.

See the bats?

One of the many beautiful mosaic stone paths.

He also made sure to take care of his family's religious needs.

Being way ahead of his time, he even included a home theatre (for Chinese opera)!

You'll see many of these elevated doorways in China.

So, these doorways have puzzled me for years. Frankly, I find them pretty annoying because they tend to trip me up.  My thought was that maybe the builders didn’t know how to build a door without putting this tall door step in for support–kind of like the way it took awhile before people figured out how to do interior stairways. In Europe you’ll sometimes see stairs running along the outside of very old multi storied houses.

Turns out there’s two reasons for these stumbling blocks. The first is that they are a status symbol–really! The idea is that when you step over them, they force you to bow, so the taller they are the farther you are forced to bow. Thus people with more money and higher status will have taller doorsteps. Thus, the Forbidden City has the tallest doorsteps of all–nearly up to your knees.  The other reason has to do with feng shui and evil spirits.  Apparently evil spirits are quite stupid and clumsy and will trip over tall doorsteps (Hmm…I’m stupid? clumsy? evil?) and won’t be able to enter the house.

Stupid evil spirits can only move in a straight line; thus zig zags will also keep them out.

A double well. When two people stand, one on each side of it and look in, the person on one side can see the reflection in the water of the person on the other side!

We then went back to the water town to take a ride on the river boats and explore the town.

Rather Venice-like

The boats for hire.

Our boat captain

Note sweaty face. It's gotten hot here again. The breezes on the water were a relief.

The more bridges these little water towns had the more prosperous they were.


The streets of the town. Many vendors were selling their wares.

These are musical instruments made from gourds. The lady demonstrated them by playing "Happy Birthday"!

Chinese people love birds and often keep them as pets. This is a common sight outside people's homes.

I'm positive I heard this guy say "hen hao" in Chinese (which means very good), but I couldn't get him to repeat it.

There were lots of ladies knitting booties but they didn’t want their pictures taken.  One lady was knitting something different, and as I happened to have my knitting with me, I decided to stop and show it to her. She loved it. She counted all the stitches and rows (it’s a hat for Meredith) and discussed it with another woman. I modeled it for her and then she showed me what she was making which was a cabled sweater. I think we totally bonded. I didn’t want to ruin the moment and ask for a picture, but I did get a picture of her from behind later.

She's the one in solid purple. The other ladies are shelling a huge, huge pile of soybeans or edamame. They were roasted and sold everywhere in the town.

Pharmacy in town-I think it was part historical, and part in use today.

Beautiful carved window

carved door next to the window

This was a special kind of ham that was sold everywhere in this town and I think may have been a specialty of this town. It was about $6.50USD

These are kind of a smaller version of the ham, but apparently flavored differently. I bought one for about 30 cents. It was quite yummy.are made with rice and meat.

These are made with rice and meat. Behind them are edamame with bamboo, either plain or cooked with soy sauce.

This seems to be a shop selling shutters

A few of us ended the day with kafei or shui (coffee or water) at a little shop and got to know each other better, while others did a little shopping.  One of the best purchases I say, I think, was a queen size 100% silk batting for about $30 USD. They are absolutely gorgeous. Almost makes me want to quilt. Except I have no material here…or a sewing machine…and I brought too much yarn :). I’ll keep it in the back of my mind.

This greeted me at the door when I came home:

elevator flowers


About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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5 Responses to Zhujiajiao Water Town

  1. vernon says:

    Great blog

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