China Connection Tours, a reputable China tour operator & travel agency from 1987
In a sense, Daxi street and its surrounding area, the oldest section of Zhenjiang, is nothing spectacular-but that is part of its appeal. It looks exactly what Chinese city streets are SUPPOSED to look like but few actually do. Large canopies extend from older buildings, shading the narrow cobblestone alleys which wind through the city in a seemingly random fashion, and vendors are set up on corners, sidewalks, and sometimes in the middle of a road hawking fruits, vegetables, and "antiques".
The buildings appear a bit dilapidated but that adds to their charm, and there is little evidence of abject poverty. The people you see look well fed and clothed and if you peek through the windows of the houses, you will find that many contain surprisingly comfortably furnished middle class homes beneath their humble exterior.
Here is an interesting place to watch the locals go about their day to day lives-if your own presence isn't too disruptive. For example, as I was strolling through this area yesterday I stopped to photograph several children playing in a particularly quaint little dead-end path that may have been four feet wide. As I was just about to get the photo I heard the familiar scream "wai guo ren! wai guo ren!" (foreigner). It was too late. I had been spotted. All of the children rushed over to me shouting "wai guo ren!" and practicing the English they had learned at school. I spoke with them a few moments (very basic conversation, of course) before continuing on my way.
This would be a great place to shop for souvenirs. I doubt if you can buy too much in the way of authentic ancient Chinese artifacts, but you can find a good fake (as always, be prepared to bargain). I didn't buy anything because I was already hauling too much stuff around and I was a little short on cash. I think I will come back here another time to buy gifts though.
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