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A few weeks ago, tired of sitting in the (back then) grey, rainy city, together with a couple of friends we decided to take a short day trip. Yes, I finally moved beyond my comfort zone (ie wherever I can get on my bicycle)! Oh, the benefits of having friends who have friends who have cars…

We set out from Hangzhou towards Suzhou, which is a city famous for its gardens and canals (there is a saying in China: shang you tiantang, xia you Su Hang – Heavens above, Suzhou and Hangzhou on down here) and apparently well worth a visit. But since this whole area of China abounds in the so-called water towns, we decided to spare ourselves three hours in the car and settled for something closer, maybe not as splendid, but more peaceful – and thus landed in Nanxun (South Water Margin – nice name, isn’t it?), about an hour and a half’s drive away from home.

Typical architecture from this region

I bet you didn't expect this! A wee bit too Western-looking for an old Chinese village, am I right? But the owner of this villa was a well-educated and affluent intellectual and that kind of crowd always goes for foreign fads...

Same villa: the European part of the garden. Made me a bit nostalgic for home, sniff sniff (even though it doesn't actually look like home, more like Italy or something)

An exit from a traditional mansion garden

A banner advertising some local brew. After repeated trials with baijiu (Chinese vodka) – no, thank you, I'll stick to Qingdao beer.

Nanxun is not just a tourist attraction, but also a place where people still actually live (even though you have to pay to get inside!). Which means that…

...there will be a cheap local noodle shop...

...there will be people on scooters trying to drive over you and honking at you at the same time...

...there will be multiple items of ancient underwear flowing in the breeze... (like a candle in the wind...)

...and of course, there will be ladies doing laundry in the canal (as if anything washed in this water could actually get out cleaner than it was). Somewhere downstream there will be someone else rinsing veggies for your lunch.

Pink & Pink

This would almost qualify as a square in these parts.

A moody spot.

"Rice"

A view from the canal

A traditional Chinese village must include... a pop-culture icon (the Nice Sheep, from a cult Chinese cartoon "The Nice Sheep and the Big Bad Woolf")

There are photos in black&white, there are photos in sepia – I'm recently discovering and inclination to play with other colours too; why not? Behold the Red Bridge!

Caged birds... ahem, enjoying some fresh air. This stinks of irony...

A green lake in the last days before spring

Severe & Lively - I'd love to see someone pulling off both at the same time...

And that’s all, folks. Judging by the number of pictures you might get an impression the town is quite big. Don’t be fooled by my eagerness: there’s one street and almost nothing else. But still a nice day trip. Hope you enjoyed it!

(FYI: yes, this is the long post I was repeatedly trying to publish a few weeks ago. I’ve uploaded the photos again and rewrote the text in the hope that this time it’ll work…)

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