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A Rainy Day in Jiaxing

[ 6 ] June 8, 2010 |

Sick of being cooped up in my apartment in Keqiao with cold showers on the weekends and a less than cooperative squat toilet, I decided that it was time for me to get away for the weekend!  Deciding to burden my English friend Duncan with my company for the weekend (despite him having to work) I headed up to Jiaxing for a visit and a chance to add another of China’s cities to my “Visited List”.

While I was hoping to explore the city in the nice warm spring sunshine the weather had other plans and decided to rain out the entire weekend!

So what does a girl do on a rainy day in Jiaxing?

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She Shops…

I was spoilt for choice as to where to shop.  Along the main road going through the city centre lies many shops as well as a shopping centre that best of all contained a multi level women’s clothing market!  The market is set up like a series of tiny boutiques, and unlike many of the other clothes markets I have visited in China what set this one apart was each stall didn’t offer exactly the same clothes as its neighbour.

Jiaxing Shopping Strip

Nearby to the shopping centre is Lady Street (It was about time us females had whole streets dedicated to our amazingness).  Along this street was everything a girl could want from dresses, to jewellery, to bags and fine lacy items.  It was here that I completed my mission, my mission to find shorts made for a western derrière

Lady Street, Jiaxing

I was like a kid in a candy store when I walked into a shop to find a whole table piled high with shorts of all colours, surely here at least I could find something to fit!  Luckily they stocked sizes up to L-XL (equivalent to a size 10-12 in Australia).  Finally I struck gold and several kwai later I left a very happy girl!   

Shopping at Cache, Jiaxing

As I walked around this shopping mecca I was commonly stopped by guys, not try to pick me up or practice their English but to offer discount spa treatments.  If I hadn’t been such a stinge and hadn’t spent so much money shopping I may just have taken them up on the offer!!!

I despondently left behind all the shops but not before coming across what can only be described as a “mangerie shop”.  A whole shop dedicated to selling men’s underwear.  They stocked a massive range of briefs  featuring what seemed to be all the cartoons known to man!  I’ve not seen anything like that anywhere else I’ve travelled in the world, who would have thought there would be a market for it!  Apparently in China men like to spend money on expensive cartoon character briefs likes ladies in France spend money on lacey lingerie!

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She Eats…

After a very fun but tiring few hours shopping, I was famished and just about ready to consume an entire horse!  I was tempted by laziness and that delicious scent of 11 Secret Herbs and Spices to eat lunch at KFC.  But my feet had other ideas and soon enough I found myself aimlessly wandering until I happened to stumble upon a restaurant strip.  Lacking much Mandarin skills beyond using buses and trains I walked up and down the strip until I found a restaurant with at least pictures on the menu.  There were only 3 restaurants to choose from.

Jiaxing Restaurants

I found a nice little restaurant that was a tad pricey by Chinese standards and certainly a lot more pricey then in my home city of Keqiao.  Obviously the high cost was to cover the cost of the colour printing on the menu!  But the food in the pictures looked delicious and the staff friendly and accommodating despite the language barrier. 

After a lot of pointing and nodding I managed to order some food, though exactly what is was I wasn’t entirely sure.  After what seemed like forever a steaming pot of spicy hacked up chicken in broth came out and was set on a little hot plate to simmer.  It was delicious!  That was until I bit into what I assumed was a piece of chicken breast only to find it was tough and rubbery like what I would expect chewing on a tire to be like.  I was persistent but my teeth just weren’t getting through it. That’s when I discovered that this large piece of chicken breast had a nail…and that  in fact it was actually a chickens foot!

Spicey Chicken Hot Pot

 

She Strolls…

After tiring from the fast pace of shopping and exhausted from mustering up all my Mandarin speaking skills just to order my lunch I welcomed a nice leisurely stroll along Jiaxing’s canals.  Along these canals I stumbled upon the Old Town an area of beautifully restored hutong’s.   In these hutong’s were boutiques selling traditional Chinese instruments, dried fruits and sweets as well as traditional Chinese rice wine (which by the way is like drinking battery acid).

Jiaxing Old Town Street

In search of a toilet I found alleyways lined with nursery’s and pet shops.  I also discovered the area was home to some really trendy bars with an international flavour.  I was so excited (for about 3 seconds) to find the Aussie flag hanging above a bar. Wandering through the streets, flag after flag of countries from all around the world beckoned a foreigner like me like a moth to a light bulb!  But I didn’t find any other foreigners at the end of the trail!

Jiaxing Old Town Bars

Finding a chair lined pavilion by the canal I planted myself down and just sat and watched life go by.  Notebook & pen in hand I got some very curious looks form the locals.  It must have looked a strange site, Jiaxing isn’t exactly a tourist city and a foreigner sitting, writing by the canal is probably not exactly a common sight.  ‘What is she penning?’ they must have thought.

Jiaxing Canal Old Town

I was in bliss, writing, taking in the perfect silence except for the quite chatter of others enjoying the afternoon and a group of Chinese girl’s singing along to the Chinese pop music blasting from their mobile phones. Sitting, writing, relaxing by the canal, at that moment life was perfect. 

Who needs knitting, cross stitch and other rainy day crafts!  The day’s adventures in Jiaxing had been the perfect way to spend a rainy spring day!!!

 

On UR Way to Jiaxing…

 

Where is it: 

Jiaxing is located in Zhejiang province of south eastern China.  It is only 40 mins from Shanghai and can be reached by regular trains or buses.

How long should I stay for:

Jiaxing is not a city with a lot of attractions for tourists.  However I would definitely recommend this as a day trip from Shanghai or on route to cities further south including: Hangzhou, Shaoxing and Ningbo.  It would definitely be worth staying the night If not just to check out the funky bars by the canals however I couldn’t find any hostels in Jiaxing so a budget hotel would be the next best option.

The Enjoyland Hotel located on Jiaxing’s South Lake has rooms starting from $23 USD per night at a discounted rate.

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Category: China

About onurwaytravel: Colin has been travelling the world with his young family for the past 2 and half years. He runs a couple of websites all revolve around travel, family travel and digital nomadism. His websites include http://ourtravellifestyle.com, http://vagabondfamily.org, http://nunomad.com and now http://on-our-way-travel.com. View author profile.

Comments (6)

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  1. Matt
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the Chinese Rice Wine. I’ll be sure to skip out on that if I make it to China!
    .-= Matt´s last blog ..Bungy Jumping at Night in Queenstown =-.

  2. Sasha says:

    Oh yes Matt the rice wine is horrible yet they seem to love it!!! The Chinese are amazing really they can drink bottle after bottle of it, one sip I wanted to throw up! lol What champs!

  3. [...] day of the Chinese summer, 34 degrees Celsius and 90% humidity.  And there I was walking around Jiaxing in the middle of the day frantically searching for a post office, it should have been a simple [...]

  4. 創業 says:

    Simply, one of the best article l have come across on this precious subject. I quite agree with your suppositions and will eagerly look forward to your forthcoming updates.

  5. Skip says:

    Dear Sasha,

    Your write up of Jiaxing is excellent. I’ve been there a few times and always admired it for the old water town it is. The “Old Town” you reference is more commonly known as ‘Moon River Street’. It’s a very old part of Jiaxing and a commercial success for the city. Moon River is a virtual rebuild from its original foundation keeping with the expansion and renovation that is on-going throughout China. Judging from old photographs of Moon River, the current version is a much better place and likely much more tourist friendly. On the east end of Moon River is a still standing traditional stone bridge that is 600 hundred years old. It’s a mild sensation to see it, touch it and walk it knowing that countless millions lives also traversed (or toiled) the very same path.

    The rice wine is a proud commodity in Jiaxing and supports distribution throughout the region. It’s produced in varying recipes with varying palatable taste from good to bad to non-drinkable. Alcohol content also varies from 4% to 20% but you can’t easily judge that from the label. The harder stuff the Chinese call ‘white wine’ but actually is a distilled grain whisky. It’s Chinese name is Baijiu. It looks and smells like diesel fuel and no doubt can be and likely has been used as such.

  6. Gravi says:

    Dear Sacha,

    Thank you for the review. Although Jiaxing is not a very touristy city, there is plenty of shopping to be had. I am currently teaching English in Jiaxing, and it is nice to go out on the town.

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