Wuzhen: a treat for old and young alike

Nie Xin
The ancient water town, just a two-hour drive from Shanghai is the perfect place for all the family.
Nie Xin
Nie Xin / SHINE

The tranquility of Wu Village takes visitors far away from the city's hustle and bustle.

Emily Cheng, a 36-year-old mother of two daughters, is preparing for a three-day trip to the water town of Wuzhen in Zhejiang Province, only two hours’ drive from Shanghai.

“It will be our first family tour since my second daughter was born,” she says.

Cheng has just started back at work after a long maternity leave of almost eight months. Her elder daughter is already 10, and it’s time for summer school holidays.

This time Cheng and her husband will take their daughters and parents of both sides — eight people in total — to Wuzhen.

The water town is world-famous for its tourist attractions — Xizha (West Wuzhen) and Dongzha (East Wuzhen). The specially charming ancient Xizha Street is one of the best-maintained examples of architecture from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

The well-organized and developed water town is also known for its annual Wuzhen Drama Festival and the World Internet Conference.

Like many other Shanghainese, Cheng has been to Wuzhen several times for both business and personal trips. But this time will be different — the big family will stay in a resort in the center of Wuzhen.

The resort, Wu Cun (Wu Village), keeps the original architecture of the old town.

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Houses in the village have been kept in original rustic style.

Nie Xin / SHINE
Nie Xin / SHINE

The guestrooms that have been renovated from farmhouses keep the original structure and style of old water towns, featuring fishing homes, rice warehouses, bamboo houses and peach orchard houses.

But the interiors offer all the modern facilities and comforts.

The flowers, trees, rivers and streams, the singing birds and glittering fireflies give tranquility and take guests far away from the city hustle and bustle.

“In the village, children will be excited to see the cows, rabbits, turtles, a variety of plants, flowers and birds,” says Xu Hong, from the marketing department of the resort.

The all-inclusive village kicked off the Wu Village Kids Fun Festival on July 14, offering old-style games from the older generation. Bringing more fun to kids, famous characters in the 1980s Chinese animations like “Black Cat Officer,” “Calabash Brothers” and “Monkey King” can be found everywhere in the village.

Outdoor games such as walking on stilts and rolling an iron ring bring back the 1970s memories, a time before the modern technology of today became popular.

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Children have fun playing old-style games at Wu Village.

Nie Xin / SHINE

“The festival hopes to bring the beauty of bygone days to today’s children,” says Xu. “Our CCOs will teach children how to distinguish different plants and flowers. They will also be very excited to see the Lego park and have a try at rock climbing.”

CCO — creative culture organizer — is a new concept introduced by the resort.

Nine international handicraft experts will be invited to give classes during the summer campaign, including Haruki Nakamura, a famous Japanese designer and paper-folding artist.

Rattan work, paper-folding, paper-cutting, bakery, fishing and feeding little animals like turtles and rabbits are already on Cheng’s schedule for her eldest daughter.

“I hope she can be involved with more activities that bring her back to nature,” she says. “Just be away from smartphone, iPad and television and enjoy a real summer holiday.”

Cheng’s eldest daughter has her own smartphone and WeChat account. The open-minded mother insists that the best way of education is not “forbidding,” but “accompanying and teaching them to love the life.”

Summer holiday is definitely an important opportunity to arrange different activities to make family members close to each other and get back to nature.

Qian Ming, a 33-year-old Shanghainese, has just been back from Tokyo with his wife and parents. The newly-wed enjoyed the five-day tour with the family and are planning to go to Wu Village next weekend.

“Nowadays people seem to focus a lot on their young children — the new generation gets more attention,” he says. “Actually I think our parents deserve more, as they have devoted their best time to us.”

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Fresh and organic vegetables and fruits are guaranteed on table.

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Dumplings with shepherd's purse

Qian learned about the resort from a team-building program and says the all-inclusive option is much better for older people.

“They don’t have to worry about any extra fees on food and drinks,” he says. “And all the vegetables and fruits are organic and seasonal.”

Resort guests get free entry into the most popular local attractions.

The village guarantees fresh food “served on table less than one hour from being picked.”

Walking around the village takes visitors past all the typical tasty treats of a typical water town — fine tea, fresh milled soya milk, fried tofu, rice soup and deserts like rice cakes — all in the typical Jiangnan (regions south of the Yangtze River) style.

“And I believe our parents will love them as well,” says Qian.

During the summer festival running through August 26, a special offer is available at 1,996 yuan (US$300) for two nights for two — one adult and one child.

If you go:

Address: 18 Shifo Road S., Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province

How to get there: Buses depart regularly from Shanghai South Bus Station to Wuzhen. Once there, take bus K350 to Wuzhen West Scenic Area.

Or take high-speed train to Tongxiang. Then take bus K282 to Wuzhen Bus Station and transfer to bus K350 to Wuzhen West Scenic Area.

For booking details and more information of tours in Wuzhen, check out www.wuzhenwucun.com or www.ewuzhen.com. Or call (0573) 8873-1088.

Nie Xin / SHINE
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