Zhujiajiao is a typical water village and boating is a good way to experience how people used to move around in the old days. This is also the nearest water village boating option to downtown Shanghai.
There're a number of ferry docks in the water village. If you enter through the south gate (like we did), and have bought the 80 RMB admission ticket that includes the boat ride, then the ticket-seller will most probably recommend the route from outside Kezhi Garden to just outside the Handalong preserved vegetables shop, on Bei Dajie. This is a short route that takes about 15 mins. There're longer routes but I don't know where they actually go.
If your ticket doesn't include a boat ride, it's 60 RMB to charter a boat (which can fit at least 4 passengers) for a short route.
The City God's Temple is located at the northwest end of the Chenghuang (City God's) Bridge. There's a white wall in front of it in order to prevent evil spirits from rushing into the temple, as traditions go.
Inside the compound, facing the main hall is a traditional opera stage where local opera performances would've been put on during religious festivals and other celebrations.
The yard has trees which are tied full of red ribbons on which are written Chinese characters in yellow, wishing for good health, prosperity, happiness and other such auspicious blessings. I think it costs 5 RMB each.
On the altar just inside the main hall of the temple are some brilliantly carved religious items.
Men inside the temple persistently try to coax visitors to offer incense and then make a donation of sorts. Personally I don't like this hard-sell tactic.
This post office has been around since the Qing dynasty. At the main entrance, have a close look at the post box -- there's a dragon coiled around it! (Not a real, live one, of course!) The main entrance is in the shikumen style, a blend of East and West, now most easily seen at Xintiandi in downtown Shanghai.
On the canal behind the main reception are 2 boats which were used in olden times to transport mail to residents.
Starting on the 2nd floor are exhibits about the history of the postal system in China. Captions are in Chinese characters as well as rather acceptable English. I was quite interested in looking at the old stamps and postcards. A number of the postcards show scenery of the Bund and other places in Shanghai during the turn of the century.
If I'm not wrong, you can get a commemorative chop on the admission ticket (if it's a postcard) for free, and also post it from here. That would make a good souvenir. :) Do remember to top-up the postage if you're posting to an address out of China though.
This is included in any of the admission tickets, and personally I think this is one of the better sights in Zhujiajiao, so do come and have a look.
This is one of the sights included in the admission ticket (whichever one you buy), but we didn't go in. To me, all Buddhist temples in China are starting to look more or less the same, so unless the temple in question is particularly notable, I won't bother going in unless I'm really interested or have the time. We only saw the temple as our boat passed by on the canal, which was good enough for me.
First built in the early 20th century by a salt merchant from Jiangxi, this garden, the largest in Zhujiajiao, took 15 years to complete. As the salt merchant's surname was Ma, this garden was also called the "Ma Family Garden". The name "Kezhi" means "not to forget to till the land while learning knowledge from books" -- a well-rounded education.
Apart from aspects of traditional Chinese classical gardens, some Western design elements were incorporated into the building of the garden and buildings. Part of the buildings were destroyed during the Japanese Occupation in World War Two. Later in the 50s the garden was used as a local school and part of the buildings were also demolished.
At the entrance to the garden is a Tai Lake rock which's in the shape of a horse's head.
The garden has been originally divided into two -- Ke Garden and Zhi Garden, linked by Kezhi Bridge. There's a small rockery where you could play hide-and-seek and also climb up for a bird's-eye view of the garden, though it was nothing spectacular IMHO.
Maybe because I came in winter, the garden wasn't particularly interesting or pretty. Almost no flowers in sight -- though I noticed a couple of trees labelled as cherry trees in the garden, so perhaps during the right season you could see some sakura here.
If you've been to gardens in Suzhou, Yangzhou, Nanjing, or even the Yu Garden (aka Yuyuan, or Yuyuan Garden) in Shanghai, don't bother wasting your time here. Of course, since the garden is one of the sights that's included in any of the admission tickets (be in 30, 60 or 80 RMB), you might as well come in for a quick look if only to fully utilise the worth of the ticket!
If you arrive from the south entrance of Zhujiajiao (the one closer to where the public buses from Shanghai stop), this will probably be the 1st ticketed attraction that you come to.
There're 2 separate sections (one to each side of the road that this gallery is on) but we could only take a quick spin around the display section as we arrived too late. In fact, I must really thank the kindness of the staff to let us in as they were actually already packing up and leaving when we came! I happened to ask one of the young girls working there if she knew where one of our dinner restaurant choices was situated and she kindly offered to wait for us to finish seeing the displays then walk us to the restaurant as it was only a stone's throw away. A small gesture perhaps, but it was one that warmed my heart. :)
The most memorable displays were the tree root carvings. In various sizes, the subjects included animals (peacock, eagle, elephant etc), idols (a huge, jolly Maitreya Buddha) and Chinese deities etc. No problem with taking photos if you fancy.
Other exhibits included bamboo root carvings, stone carvings and so on.
The gallery is included in the 80 RMB and 60 RMB admission tickets, but not in the 30 RMB admission ticket.
I don't know the real name of this bridge, but the local people told me this bridge is for you to set something free and so you will be blessed after you cross it. So when I got there, a lot of local people were holding fishes in small plastic bags with water inside. They were persuading people to buy the fish so that you could set the fish free when you got on the bridge. My friends and I didn't buy any fish because we were somehow sure the local people would catch the fish and sell them again.. again and again.. poor fish!