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Published: January 16th 2012
Yesterday I went with all of the other exchange students on a day trip to visit Yanguan Ancient Town. It is a historic town a couple hours from Shanghai that is famous for its historic buildings and the tidal bore that can be viewed from it. It was an interesting day, except for a couple of hitches: it was pouring rain the entire day and the ancient town didn't seem to have heating.
After the long drive, we arrived in the town and started with lunch. The food was good, but the restaurant had no heating. Everyone (both our group and local guests) were sitting in their winter jackets for the entire meal. If we weren't eating food, most of us were sitting on our hands trying to keep them warm. This isn't a new phenomena for this China trip - I often find myself wearing my winter jacket in class and in other buildings. But it is the first time that I have had to do this during a meal. Definitely not something I want to repeat, but I'm sure I will be.
Once we had been fed, we started the tour. Although the pouring rain was miserable,
I had my waterproof camera (instead of my good camera), so I was able to get some great shots. With Chinese New Year only a week a way, everywhere was decorated with red lanterns, and the rain on them was quite striking. We toured an old estate, a brothel, a temple, and then went to see the tidal wave. All of the old architecture was beautiful but I have to say my highlight was the brothel because of the amusement factor. They actually had an exhibit (not for "unadults under the age of eighteen") of anceint porn. Seriously. Porcelain pornograpic scultpures ("lovemaking porcelain") and drawings. I'm not going to post them on this blog, but make sure you ask me about the pictures I took when I get back from this trip. The sculptures are ridiculous and you have to see them to believe it.
After our tour of the town, we went to go see the tidal bore. What is a tidal bore you ask?
A tidal bore is a tidal phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay's current. As such, it is a true tidal wave and not to be confused with a tsunami, which is a large ocean wave traveling primarily on the open ocean.
Yanguan sits on the Qiantang River, and each day it sees a single massive tidal wave go by. In August it is up to 9 metres tall - the
biggest in the world. Unfortunately, it's not August. In January it is only about 1 metre tall. This lack of epicness was compunded by having to stand around in the pouring rain for 15 minutes waiting to see it. Not so fun, made even worse by knowing how much cooler (and warmer) it would be to see it in the summer.
What was "interesting" was the "4D" movie that we saw. Essentially, it's a 3D movie that includes moving seats, water, and wind. Oh, and a jabby thing that jabs your back so you feel the arrows being shot in the movie (fun, fun). I think that on a summer day, it would have been amusing, potentially even moderately fun. But when you have spent several hours walking around in the cold and rain, and are finally somewhere warm and dry, the last thing you want is a "4D" experience that involves getting rained on. The film was also in Chinese, and our guide never explained what the movie was about. It did inovle ancient battles, waves, and rain. But rain was the theme of the day, so at least it was consistent.
Overall it was a nice
to see the old town, but the wrong time of year to do so. It the first really touristy thing I have done, so I finally got to take a ridiculous number of pictures. I just wish there had been a better theme for the day other than rain, but I'm sure my 4 months in Southeast Asia will make up for one day of sogginess.
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