I heard about Wuzhen last year and was engaged by the photos – corridors along the river, houses built above the water, willows, pagodas, brick streets… I visited the place this year, during the May Day Golden week. My goodness. The whole place was swamped with people. You actually moved inch by inch and all around you were just people and people. A sea of people. I was completely drowned.
Adding to this, is the commercialisation of the town. A town is supposed to be a public place where the residents and all others go in and out as they like. But due to commericialisation resulted from the fame the town has gained in the past couple of years, gates have been put in place to make the central part of the town a “theme park” and you have to buy tickets (costing about 70 Yuan) to visit this part of the town, the old part. Some local residents still live in the area, whose lives are constantly under close scrutiny of throngs of visitors. The wood houses are only one or two stories high, and you see everything inside the house through the window, passing by.
I think I would not want to live here – but they don’t have a choice, do they?
A variety of shops and restaurants are lined along the street and river, selling sourveniers and food, catering to tourists’ needs and curiosities.
What can you feel in such a touristic place and ambience? Saddly, all over China, scenic spots, once they gain fame, are relentlessly turned into the current Wuzhen-style tourist attraction, leaving at the end, no attraction at all.
Zhouzhuang is another ancient water town in southern China. It gained a fame earlier than Wuzhen, and therefore was turned into a tourist trap years earlier. That is sad.
Anyway, if you still want to go and see Wuzhen, go to the Yello Dragon Tourist Center from where there is a bus tour to wuzhen every day for about 120 yuan.