The waterways of Wuzhen are kept topped up with water by the adjacent Hangzhou to Beijing Grand Canal, which is still used to supply the dry north with water from the wet south and local goods transport. It travel to Shanghai was a major transport artery in times gone by, which led to the rise to prosperity of water towns like Wuzhen.
Dong Zha (the East Sector) is basically one waterway, about 400 meters long sandwiched between two streets of original Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) houses. The street on the entrance side has souvenir shops and restaurants and the street on the far side has various museums exhibiting beds, clothes, blue flower printed fabric, etc. There are various exhibitions showing the old way of life in this water town. In the peak season the streets are thronged with Chinese tourists (few foreigners) and the waterway is busy with single-oar skiffs Yangtze River cruises carrying up to six passengers up and down the waterway. Despite being given over to tourism Dong Zha is still inhabited by the original residents who go about their lives among the tourists.
The author found Xi Zha (the West Sector of Wuzhen) a much better experience than that of Dong Zha, and believes most non-Chinese visitors will find Dong Zha interesting, but Xi Zha positively charming. Xi Zha is quieter (during the day) and is more spacious. There is a marsh with a firefly aviary and wooden water-drawing system, and a sizable pagoda at one end by the Beijing Hangzhou Grand Canal. It is similar in layout to Dong Zha with a main waterway and streets either side, but larger at 1000 meters long, with a good number of side alleys, China tours bridges, ancient docks and secondary waterways, which makes it a fascinating place to stroll around.
wuzhen villageWuzhen Water Town, Hangzhou
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