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Tourists walk along the meandering covered veranda built along the riverside where various shops sell local products.
A walk on the water side Fengjing
NOT far from China's pulsing financial center, life passes slowly in the countryside, a small river winds its way past ancient doorsteps and the air is fresh.
Fengjing Town, hidden in Shanghai's southwest in Jinshan District, is a small haven to stroll along cobblestone paths or follow the meandering "veranda" along the riverside shared by quaint houses and shops.
Fengjing is more than 1,500 years old and known for its old stone bridges, well-preserved architecture, some with delicate carving on the windows and eaves. The walls are whitewashed and topped by black slate eaves.
One can while away a peaceful afternoon strolling along and occasionally stopping for tea and snacks.
Almost every water town in the Yangtze River Delta has a long, meandering covered veranda built along the riverside, and decked with red lanterns.
The veranda, a kind of community porch, shelters people from rain and the hot sun; boats can tie up there.
Fengjing's veranda is one of old structures that remain intact. On one side are small shops and households, and on the other is the canal that links the waterways of Shanghai and Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces.
In the old days the canal was much wider than it is today, it was an important, bustling thoroughfare, the life's blood of the town. Merchants tied up at their own verandas and unloaded their goods in all kinds of weather.
The early porches, high and low, wide and narrow, were initially not linked into a single walkway. Over the years they were renovated again and again and eventurally linked and integrated so that one could walk from one end to the other.
Today, after strolling along, you can find a boatman to take you along the waterfront where the reflections of houses and lanterns ripple on the water.
Covered boats are tied up along the wood docks and boatmen, in this case, mostly pretty girls, are happy to dip their paddles in and take you for a ride.
The girls are dressed in old-fashioned blue homespun trousers and jackets and wear black fabric shoes. If requested, they can sing local songs for the passengers.
Fengjing is famed for its numerous stone bridges, which were exquisitely carved. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) there were 52 bridges; today there are only 10.
The oldest is near South Street, it's the Zhihe Bridge, which was built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).
The ancient stones are covered with moss and ivy wraps itself around the supports and railings.
Qingfeng, Zhuhang and Beifeng bridges are the "Famous Three," also the signature of the town. They link the most visited spots, such as teahouses, opera stages and handicraft boutiques.
It is said that each newly wed couple must cross the three bridges on their wedding day, in a passage said to bring them a happy marriage and good luck.
At the eastern tip of Heping Street, an open-air opera stage offers a beautiful river view. Visitors can enjoy the shows from boats, or they can buy a ticket. Local operas are performed weekly.
During holidays and festivals, the opera stage is always surrounded by locals, visitors and merchants from other cities. Acrobatics, circus shows and various other performances are staged.
Opposite to the stage is a teahouse, where visitors can sip a cup of green tea while enjoying the show across the street.
A red Western-style building with stone pillars stands next to the teahouse: it's the old firehouse built in the early 1920s and contained a modern fire control system that remains intact.
The station displays old firefighting equipment such as ladders and water guns. A red boat is tied up at the nearby dock, Shanghai's last firefighting boat.
Nearby is the People's Commune, which is now a museum. The commune was the highest of three administrative levels in rural areas from 1958 to 1982, and it served governmental, political and economic functions.
On entering the commune, one first sees a big bright red slogan, "Serve the People." Next to the slogan, two quotations by Chairman Mao Zedong are hung high on banners, including "Marxism-Leninism is our guide and leading theoretical foundation."
One wall displays old photos of Mao taken in different periods. Another area titled "China in the 1950s" displays everyday items, such as ration coupons, white enamel cups, Phoenix bicycles, Shanghai watches and notes of a female textile factory worker.
In the back yard of the commune, there's an air-raid shelter that was dug in 1972 and an MiG-15 fighter aircraft. It is said the craft was purchased by Fengjing locals to make a patriotic contribution to their country.How to get there:
Choose the Shanghai-Hangzhou Highway. Get off at the Fengjing Exit. Turn onto the 320 National Route and drive to the town.
It is about an hour's drive.
It is free to get into the town, but some scenic spots such as the People's Commune and the Chairman Mao's Memorial Hall charge admission fees.
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