Barely three months into the new employment, I found myself with everyone from the company two hours away from Shanghai on a rainy weekend, at a scenic watertown called Wuzhen.

The expectation that this would be a worthwhile trip was not present at all. The pictures online were less than impressive, and the locals I spoke too weren’t too enthusiastic. This wasn’t the first time I went out on a company outing overseas (the first was at Tonglu), which involved a considerable amount of hiking, nevertheless, it was fun to be around mountains and rivers to serve as a break from the Pudong concrete we were all used too.

I haven’t been to a watertown before, though I’ve read and heard about it. The bus trip was relatively short, and after securing admission to the area, we were greeted by a ferry (photo above) to transport us to the hotel. The rain was pouring at this time already. We hurried our steps, but you can’t just ignore how the narrow streets we walked on, and the houses surrounding us, were too easy on the eyes. We stayed at the Zhaoming Inn, and by this time the pleasant surprises are just hitting me solid. The room I got, well, makes you want get cuddly with a red-cheongsam wearing Zhang Ziyi or Maggie Cheung in it, though I went for the much easier option of switching on the TV, and got my first dose of English-language channels after such a long time.

I convinced myself to shoot despite the weather, and my assumption that probably half of the company decided to stay indoors for that wet night, right after dinner. No decision could be better, as tourists still filled the area, picture-snapping commenced everywhere.

Websites cite how you can eat at resident’s houses at the Wuzhen Xizha Scenic Zone, though there are restaurants around. There’s not much of a sharp contrast, since after 2 days, one would seen realize this part of Wuzhen is for the tourists, and I seriously suspect that everyone living there is there to keep a business running.

The second day was drier, though this was company activity day, so we had to wait until evening for free-time again. I had fun with the previous night’s charades-play, but my feet were itching to go out again this time. Sunday night was less interesting for a shoot, but I did get to the harder-to-get-to corners of the place.

We were leaving Monday noontime, and an optional tour was set for the morning before that. None of my fellow-Pinoys went, which still puzzles me. The destination was the Wuzhen Dongzha Scenic Zone, where people did take residence, and there weren’t any protruding wood-harnessed air-conditioning units at every home.

The group I decided to tag along with gave a good hour to some sit-down tea by mid-morning, and I was glad that they picked a place where I could still take random snaps. After all, I have been tired from running around the previous nights, and I really don’t think there was a chance I could cover a lot of ground anymore. The tickets we held gave us entrance to small museums, that highlight wood carvings, ancient beds, and old money.

With a bowl of beef noodles -which lacks that sweet tang my Pinoy flavor palette enjoys and is accustomed to- stewing in my belly, buses headed off back to the office. I was all too glad I had a Monday break.

So, is Wuzhen worth going back to? Yes! Bring your sweetheart, bring friends, and leave your I-want-the-authentic-watertown-experience behind (I bet you’ll be staying at Xizha, anyway), then you should be good to go.

The full Flickr photoset can be found here, or view the slideshow here.

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