It doesn’t matter if it’s world renown, protected, must-goes, have-beens…I love visiting ancient towns in China. I only had 4 hours free in Wu Xi. I did a little research , the only ancient town I can visit in such a short time before business (for me) began was Huishan. This is an old town, 15 minutes taxi ride away from central Wu Xi. It has a long, colorful history which can be dated back thousand years ago. Though not really a place recommended by locals to visit in Wu Xi – I have no regrets visiting Huishan. This ancient town is still undergoing renovation to restore its original architectural beauty and heritage. It’s a 1 square kilometre collection of ancient mansions, ancestral halls, old wells, doorways, bridges with a waterway running across this historical quaint town. Partially renovated, one can witness what time, modernization, negligence and men can do to a once-upon-a-time, prosperous site for the elitist of the past. Sometimes restoration projects may create an unnatural, almost contrived, interpretation of what it used to be.
I particularly was more captured by the contrast created by the unrenovated, unkempt or what I felt ‘real’ parts of Huishan. This town used to be a residential area for the locals. Some still lived there, unwilling to abandon their homes passed down for generations, to make way for urban projects. But it’s a matter of time before Huishan shall become a top tourist attraction in Wu Xi, I can imagine…an open air museum filled with tourists.
the old and the new…in contrast