Shaoxing, Where My Memories Lay

“Study abroad” and experiencing a new culture can be exciting and challenging, but the “homesickness” is hard. I usually don’t express a deep feeling of homesick when being asked questions like “You have been in states for over 2 years, aren’t you homesick?” But if that person is also a fellow international student (especially in the one/two-semester exchange program), my answer is usually like this “well, my time in America is limited, I will eventually return home, it doesn’t worth it to miss all the fun and being homesick, then in a sudden came to the time when have to go home but started to feel sad”.

Yes, I do have the homesick feeling sometimes, especially during holiday breaks when there is nothing much to do. Looking through the old pictures is the main issue that got me miss home. But here, I would like to use my pictures to introduce my hometown to you. It is not as big or crowded at Hangzhou, but it just has everything it needs, from skylines to historic districts; from stone arc bridges to modern bridges. It is developing, and it also preserves history.

To introduce a city can be hard, especially for me who have been born in this city, and lived for about 20 years, I know the people, I know every little bit of the city where my heart belongs to. Here are my top 10 picks of my hometown, Shaoxing! All pictures are taken by myself, so I don’t have to give anyone for Photo Credit!! And yes, I left out the cannel on purpose, because it has been registered as world heritage, it gets enough attention already, I don’t need to emphasis on that.

This is my life saver since elementary school, when I got my first library card (then I switched to adult library card, and I got the LIFELONG member ship with no fees!) This is a better a library than some of the universities! Its physical space is limited, but its online sources just kept on growing, I can still get access even from states. This attached picture is on the wall facing the main entrance. This is not a regular painting, these are Chinese characters from different historic period and different calligraphy styles. Isn’t this amazing! (Oh, forgot to mention, this library in my hometown has a 24-hour self-service reading room, you can’t borrow books from here, but can sit there and read, no one will yell at you about time)


Shaoxing is famous for its history of calligraphy, even in my elementary school, we were offered calligraphy classes as a must-take class, with the believe that “if you don’t have a good handwriting, you are a shame of being born and live in this city”, it soon be discovered as a trick that teachers use to push us study harder. But isn’t it awesome to have the gift of good-handwriting even in this high-tech age! The picture below is a calligraphy gallery at a park that’s built in memory of Wang Xi Zhi (if you don’t know who he is, Google it)


3. Water Lilies
When I were at home, I thought this thing was very beautiful and always admire it. It wasn’t until now, after two years being at states, and touring to about 16 states, but in none of these 16 states have I found water lilies. I began to realize what a treasure it is to my hometown, when I can see its beauty almost everywhere. They are extremely attractive and beautiful in summer time when there are flocks of dragonflies circling around. Sometimes can found tiny frogs sitting on those leaves or fish swimming underneath. What a harmony!


4.Stone Lions.
This is something that I do find in America, but it’s just a copy of shape, not so blend in with the environment. I was always amazed to see these art works along my hiking routes along the river (sometimes lakes), each of those lions look the same, but when look closer, they really have different details, and it just blends in so well with the stone path, stone bridges, the water background. The picture below is one of many lions that stand on the side of a stone arc bridge.


5. Historic District.
Almost all the well-known historic districts in my hometown have been registered as national heritage for protection and tourist reasons. For people who are tired of modern skylines, this is a unique place to experience. Those black roofs, white walls, wooden windows, stone brick walking path (cars are not allowed, bicycles are allowed if you don’t mind the ongoing bump, horse carriages are welcomed and you might be captured on news for that, walking is perfect for sightseeing and exercising, you will always want to stop by the stores to see something unique) I took this picture shortly after the high-volume of tourists left, so it kinda looks empty.


6. Water Front Movies.
This is probably one of my favorite things to do  on a hot summer night. Take a hike and find a good bench sitting down, there is color show, music fountains, movies right in front. This is like no other. When you can really multi-tasking. For some tea lovers, there is a tea house right across the screen, I took the picture right outside the tea house.



7. Natural Gift (Yun2 Gu3, the Chinese name, but I can’t find a perfect translation)
This place used to be a “Stone Pit”, but as the city’s economy grows, it kinda went out of business. But instead of destroying the whole area, the city got to preserve what’s left after the “Stone Pit”, there is probably no many places to find such giant rock with this shape (small in the bottom and large on top, it even grows wild plants there!)


8. Modern-style bridges.
I can’t remember how many times I have crossed this bridge. Because my home is only 5 minutes WALKING distance from the bridge. It is just so unique to combine the purpose of sightseeing and loosen traffic burden in one. I personally love its view at night, with the lights on, it just looks so pretty. This bridge has been such a blessing to my family and many others, it used to take us at least 20 minutes to go to downtown by bike, but after the bridge was built, it only took about 5 minutes on foot, to  access groceries, entertainment, city parks, public buses and so on.


9. Floating Bridge.
The first time I walked on floating bridge, I was scared to death (if you were there, you would see me wearing a floating swimming suit and pool noodles, I wasn’t even kidding), but the trick is: walk fast and you will easily cross to the other end, but if you scared to death and don’t dare to move, hmm, not so sure if you will survive.


10.Stone Arc Bridge.
If people say Pittsburgh is a heaven for bridge, I would say “nope, wait until you visit my hometown, Shaoxing”, from a data in 1993, there were 10610 bridges in Shaoxing, and more have been added since then. That’s more than 10 times of the number of bridges in Venice. Let along Pittsburgh, which self-identified as bridge heaven, but only have hundreds according to data. The photo below was featured on Gu3 Qian1 Dao4, it was built in 815, and was a major path in Shaoxing. Now, city has developed, part of it has changed, but this unique spot was preserved!


Now, you may wonder”is Shaoing just so under-developed? No Skylines or Shopping Centers?” If that’s what I have impressed you, then here is the other side of Shaoxing. It has Skylines, shopping malls, night markets, street food. I’m not a big fan for fast food or imported chain stores, but as far as I know, Shaoxing has Papa John’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks Coffee, and so on. This is what I miss so much about home! It preserve history and aiming at the world! Here it is: The modern Skylines & The historic district. side by side

If you have gold eyes, you would notice a tall modern building stood out on the left, and a wooden structure tower on the right. Both were about the same height.




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