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Immersed in waters and wine of Shaoxing

THE ancient water town of Shaoxing in Zhejiang Province offers an abundance of beautiful waterways, bridges and grottoes, plus well-preserved historic architecture. And, of course, there's the famous rice wine. Chen Ye takes a sip.

Charming Shaoxing, an ancient water town in Zhejiang Province, is just two or three hours from Shanghai by bus where visitors can immerse themselves in 2,500 years of history, as well as Shaoxing's famous rice wine.

Shaoxing is famous for traditional bridges, rivers and canals, wupeng (black awning boats), ancient architecture and textile factories.

The wupeng boats symbolize the city. They come around 4 meters long and a meter wide, with a curved black wood shelter.

Boat men or boat women in traditional dark costumes and hats sit on the stern, handling the tiller, using an oar and paddling with their feet.

Taking a boat ride, visitors glide along canals and pass under traditional stone bridges.

Shaoxing's East Lake is one of Zhejiang's three most famous lakes, which can be explored by boat. There the wupeng boats pass through three fascinating rock caves, which are named Xiantao, Langba, and Taogong. Cliffs, grottoes, stone bridges and beautiful mountain scenery abound.

The sunset on East Lake is spectacular, especially enjoyable from a slowly moving wupeng.

Canoes are also available to visit Xiantao and Taogong.

Shaoxing's another attraction is the former residence of Lu Xun, the father of modern Chinese literature who based many of his stories and characters on scenes in the town.

The residence in the town center is a national tourist attraction on one of the well-preserved historic streets.

Exhibits cover his life and times, his writings and also feature relics from his day.

Shaoxing has enough attractions to keep the most energetic visitor busy.

It is famous for its wine and food and there are numerous stories about them.

Once upon a time, a nice young man named Jiu and his mother worked on a farm. Although they were very poor, they were happy together.

One autumn Jiu brought home a bag of expensive rice, saying he wanted to cook a delicious meal to thank his mother for working so hard to take care of him.

But his mother thought the expensive rice should be saved for the Chinese Lunar New Year's celebration. So they saved it.

That Lunar New Year, Jiu cooked the expensive rice. It was snowing heavily. He and his mother saw an old woman lying unconscious in the freezing snow. They brought the old woman inside.

After she awakened, she told a secret to Jiu and his mother.

"You are very kind people and I thank you for saving my life. Please put this powder and some water into the rest of the rice and in 30 days it will have changed color. Then you can sell it for a higher price," she said.

They followed instructions and one month later the expensive rice had turned into an amber liquid - Shaoxing wing. Since it was made by Jiu, the kind young man, jiu became the name for liquor in China.

Wupeng boat

Cost: 10-40 yuan

Lu Xun's Former Residence

Open: 8:30am-5pm

Address: 235 Lu Xun Rd M.

Admission: Free

How to get there

By bus: Buses run from Shanghai Bus Station and Shanghai South Bus Station and take only two to three hours.

By train: 60 yuan


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