Xitang at night is absolutely the movie in your mind. It’s the one you always see in Chinese soap operas, classic telenovelas, and films. On the night I arrived there, I wasted no time. I hurriedly checked into my hotel room, changed my t-shirt, and off I went to the water town. It’s a convenient two-minute walk from my hotel, so I did not worry about going back late. A
It was my first glance at the ancient town, so I had no idea what to expect.
I entered through a long and narrow alley lit only by a few red lanterns.
When I emerged, four grandmothers sitting on a wooden stool with their fans, looked at me with a puzzled look. Did I scare them with my three-week-old beard? That I would never know. 😀
Shops lined both sides of the narrow streets.
Red lanterns were ubiquitous, and I felt like I was living in the past, or that I was part of a movie shoot.
Out of curiosity, I went into very narrow alleys to check out what was in there. I found courtyard houses free from renovations, unlike the ones you see on the main street.
As you can see in these photos below, the white-washed houses along the canals retain its pure form and architecture.
The stone bridges are high enough for the boats to pass under them.
Imagine a transport like that ages ago – going from one village to another.
I found out later that Xitang’s water canals are coming from nine rivers.
Therefore, there are other water towns in the area that are as old (if not older) as Xitang.
If the movie “Mission Impossible III” (Tom Cruise) were not shot here, the village would still have been quiet today.
At night, Xitang is photogenic from every angle.
It’s magical. It’s absolutely romantic, too!
As I strolled under covered corridors and crossed countless bridges, I heard loud music – electronic music.
As I got nearer, I realized, I was about to enter the “bar street.”
And yes, there are bars and clubs with bouncing dance floors and patrons with their glow sticks! Oh dear!
I was amused, and at the same time, wondering, “Why on earth there’s a bar street” in this ancient village?
It would be like having McDonald’s or Starbucks inside the Forbidden City. (By the way, there was once a Starbucks inside the Forbidden City, but they closed in 2007.)
Hotel in Xitang
I found a cheap hostel just outside the ancient village – Xitang Hotel. It’s only a minute or two to the entrance. It is clean and although the staff can’t speak English, they have a very reliable translator app. There are also shops and restaurants in the surrounding area. You can book it via Booking, or Expedia.
VPN in China
Remember that while most hotels in China have free access to wifi, I recommend that youto access your social media accounts. And yes, there’s no Google here, too. If you have Gmail and other Google products, you have to have a VPN to access them.
Buying a Train Ticket Online in China
Buying train tickets at the train station anywhere in China can be confusing for those who don’t speak the language. What I always do is book via TRIP because it’s the most convenient, and they only charge $3. You wasted no time joining the long queue there. However, on the day of your trip, make sure to be at the station for at least an hour and a half. Go directly to the window booth where they issue the real tickets. You have to show the reservation number/s. Train attendants usually allow passengers to check in between 20 minutes before the scheduled departure.