Sunday, January 10, 2016

Hanging out in Shaoxing

Just got back from a very pleasant roadtrip to 绍兴 Shaoxing, about three hours southeast of Shanghai by way of a record-breaking new six pylon sea bridge. Shaoxing's an ancient place, long famed (albeit under a different name) as home of 大禹 the Great Yu, who first worked out how to control floods four millennia ago, and of a legendary meeting of poets and calligraphers at 兰亭 an Orchid Pavilion in the 4th century CE; in more recent times it's celebrated as the birthplace of Lu Xun and Zhou En Lai. It's the home of 黄酒 yellow wine, Shaoxing cooking wine and 越 Yue opera, too. And today, my friend X put it while trying to navigate its traffic, it's "a third tier city with lots of entrepreneurs who buy BMWs for their sons" - and soupy air. We explored the old city, full of bridges over its ancient lattice of canals, partaking of a very local meal with home-made rice wine, ascended the thousand steps to the giant cartoonish statue of Yu atop his favorite hill south of town and appreciated the picturesque reflections at the Orchid Pavilion park to the southeast (it's not the original site, but has been commemorated here as 书法圣地 a sacred site of calligraphy since the Ming) and vast accompanying museum. Yet what we'll most remember, I suspect, is the butterflied fish, geese, and various cuts of meat hung out to dry throughout the old town - from trees, lampposts, railings, clotheslines...

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