A few weeks back in time to July 2013……
Heading from Nanjing to Kunshan Station on the Beijing to Shanghai bullet train route, we eagerly anticipated our arrival in Jinxi, armed with googlings of information and images of the water township we were headed to.
Leaving the station, in a taxi organised by the hotel/youth hostel we were to be staying in, we didn’t let the industrial feel of the area dampen our excitement. Stations are often surrounded by such a lack of scenery. However as the forty minute journey continued, faint shades of disappointment were slowly smothering our hopes.
As the driver announced that our destination was very close, I looked around at the dark and dismal town we were passing through and wondered if Google had lied to us.
Suddenly, we rounded a bend and relief bolted through me. At the end of the road stood a large body of water and the ornate end of one of the many bridges we had been promised.
A short walk through the ticket barrier (!?!?) (we didn’t have to pay because it was 6pm and already closed for the day), we entered the myriad of narrow alleyways that led into the heart of Jinxi and realised that Google really had lied. The views were much better than we could ever have crossed our fingers for.
Jinxi is an old water township in Jiangsu province, southwest of Kunshan City that still boasts original Ming and Qing dynasty buildings, a wonderful lotus pond, beautiful oriental bridges and the tomb of Chenmu, the concubine of Song dynasty’s emperor Xiaozong. For more detailed information visit: http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/jiangsu/kunshan/jinxi-town.htm
Having lived for a year in Tianjin, a sprawling city and industrial port 30 minutes by bullet train from Beijing, the need to escape the endless noise, people, pollution and construction work is constant. Jinxi provides the perfect reprieve. Clean air, the utterly relaxed lifestyle of the locals, views of the water, good food and cold beer. A must when the temperature in July hits a dripping 43 degrees celsius! Most importantly it provides the opportunity to actually see something old and original instead of the numerous city sites that replicate something old and original. It also shows a glimpse of life we rarely see, such as the sight of an old lady washing clothes in the canal.
Basically, this wonderful location offers tranquility, an overflowing bucket full of it. Days here should be spent simply; reading a book, slowly browsing the many shops of teapots, paintings, fans and clothing, taking a trip on the canals accompanied by the not quite so tranquil sounds of the captain’s singing, drinking tea, filling your stomachs with amazing and amazingly cheap food and ending the day with a few drinks in the best hotel bar I’ve ever been to.
On the river
A fantastic tea house
I thoroughly recommend everyone visits Jinxi, actually I insist you do.
Our wonderful hotel, a bargain at £18 per night
A rather poor shot of the excellent hotel bar