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SIPAEFI Members Tour the Water Town of Xitang


40-odd senior managers from the member units of SIP Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment (SIPAEFI) and their families were enchanted by the picturesque scenery of water-bound thousand-year-old town of Xitang, Zhejiang Province, on a weekend day tour organized by the association in the golden autumn season. The well preserved buildings of the Ming and Qing dynasties, inhabitant houses with plastered walls and dark roof-tiles lining alleyways along canals, delicate stone bridges, and the traditional folk customs of simplicity impart an air of antiquity and quiet charm.

Life here is not only tranquil and simple, but has remained so from times of yore. In this "borderline area" of the ancient Wu and Yue States of the Spring and Autumn Period, senior citizens sit in the sunshine, chatting, peeling the fresh soya beans, and behind them are houses and bridges century older than themselves.


The visitors roam the narrow lanes paved with stone slabs, flanked by tall walls, with a feeling of nostalgia, the narrowest of them less than a meter, and behind the walls of varying heights are ancient residences of past celebrities.

The guide showed the tour group some of the old houses and courtyards and recounted the time-honored way of life here. The residence of the Zhu Family is a Ming architectural compound of a series of halls and courts, and the quaintly furnished halls are now showrooms of historical relics and folk artifact like bamboo carving, wood carving, carved bricks and eave tiles, or collections of woodblock printed books in classical binds, calligraphy works, and ancient scrolls.

A unique sight to all visitors is the thousand-meter-long covered street, which is actually a roofed veranda along the canal, on one side of which are small shops and houses of the folks, and on the other, a long wood-carved seat with backs hanging over the flowing waters. Rain or shine, people can stroll along the covered street, sit for a rest, or buy snacks from the old shops, delicacies like gorgon fruit cakes, meat rolls, bamboo shoot-flavored beans, and so on. The bridges overlooking one another, mostly structures left over form the Ming and Qing periods, and the sculling boats form a panorama of typical country scenes in ink wash painting.

So delightful and relaxing is the tour of the day that the members of SIPAEFI look forward to another time of gathering like this to renew their friendship and to make more friends.

Nov. 3, 2005

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