Tourists rarely discover Fengjing but it is likely one of the most authentic parts of Shanghai

Fengjing: Shanghai's Water Town

Fengjing, now almost a part of greater Shanghai is a living example of the water towns of China. Fengjing has an old historic area that is being renovated, in keeping with the policy of trying to replace old housing with the same style and design in the historic districts. But it is clearly a living town and one that provides a unique glimpse at a way of life that is not easy to find in an increasingly urbanized modern world.

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The area seems to be part museum, part authentic town. Before entering the area, there's a small stage where a live performance was entrancing visitors. Beyond the entrance, there's a cobble stone area to explore that appears to be a recreated (and improved) living history. Wandering around, somewhat cluelessly, there was a weaver creating vibrant rugs. And stone buildings that were there to explore, even if I wasn't sure what I was seeing.

Go past that well-laid out, historic craft area and you'll find yourself along a canal with a living breathing town around you. Old fashioned barber shops, tiny food shops, people eating, fishing, a mother playing with a baby who shyly waves. Boats ply the canal. People fish, hang laundry, look at the river.

There's a post office to serve the community, and new housing replacing the old. It's picturesque and yet real, another example of a historic district being reinterpreted and bea. It's about an hour outside of Shanghai.

Few tourists visit, which is frankly, their loss.

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Neala McCarten

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Updated: November 27, 2016

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