Xitang-A Popular Water Town
    2009-07-19 15:27:35     CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Sun Yang

Locals sell food and handmade baby's shoes in Xitang, a water town in eastern China's Zhejiang Province, on Saturday, July 18th, 2009. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com]

According to tourism company employee Chen Kang it's hard to secure a room at the weekend in Xitang, a water town in East China's Zhejiang province, because so many people flock there then.

Mr. Ren, a home inn owner, confirmed Chen's words saying that nearly all Xitang's home stays had been booked when we arrived at the ancient town on Saturday.

In addition, it is not even peak season. Usually, the town's peak tourist time is during public holidays, for example during the May Day Holidays or the National Day Holidays.

Since the town began promoting its tourism industry in 1997 it has gradually gained both domestic and international fame.

While high-speed economic development has demolished countless old buildings and people's traditional way of life in many parts of China, this old town has successfully managed to attract millions of visitors by maintaining its ancient architecture, and traditional lifestyle, which are perfectly preserved here.

More and more people who are tired of steel skyscrapers and busy city traffic are seeking to escape from their routines and find a different sense of peace and leisure. Thanks to such a trend, a number of water towns in eastern China, also the most developed area in China, have become favoured destinations. These include such places as Zhouzhuang, Wuzhen and Xitang.

As for Xitang, after the Hollywood blockbuster "Mission: Impossible 3" filmed some scenes there, increasing numbers of tourists from western countries also added this town to their 'must-see' lists. Before that, foreign tourists in Xitang were mainly from Japan and South Korea.

Apart from increased numbers of tourists, there are over 10,000 locals still living in the town. Some people also moved into the town from other places to run souvenir businesses. Therefore, the actual population is much larger than 10,000, according to Zhong Qiang, a Xitang tourism organizer.

Knowing those facts, you will not be shocked to see narrow alleys crowded with local's motorcycles, stalls selling handmade crafts and food as well as tourists busy taking photographs.

On one hand, people who seek peace and serenity might be upset because this town full of people is too noisy and crowded; on the other hand we can witness how tourism has breathed life into this old town- it is still living and dynamic.

Compared with those empty towns which have only ancient buildings but no residents, Xitang is absolutely a more attractive destination.

But if you have decided to visit it some day, don't forget to book room in advance for it is always full of People.

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