One of the great parts about living in Shanghai is the access to many an adorable water town. Tongli, one of the water towns that requires a 100 kuai entrance ticket that grants you access to eight major sites in the contained village, is definitely worth a visit. From cute rivers that cross the city to the colorfully adorned pagodas, this water town really has it all. But what definitely made it one of the best was the TOP NOTCH snacks. Bravo, Tongli, Bravo. You win.
Tongli is such a beautiful water town. From the moment we stepped into the gate of the enclosed area, we were greeted with picturesque sites like this one.
The Pearl Pagoda is one of the iconic sites in Tongli that many tourists visit. You can buy little red wood blocks that say happiness and peace on them and sign your name and date and hang it up in the pagoda. Many people had taken advantage of this 10 kuai deal and the pagoda was absolutely covered with messages of peace and happiness through its hallways.
The walk to the pagoda was absolutely stunning. Unlike the hustle of Shanghai life with tons of cars pumping out exhaust fumes and taxis honking at you as they try to zoom across the street when there is a red light, the walk in the pagoda was totally removed from modern day life. The weeping willows were massive and were covering the pathway that had a nice walkway and a river that bended through the pagoda’s grounds.
Best food ever. This stand made these little pastry nuggets of goodness that were only 3 kuai. I had two and then one of my friends didn’t want to finish hers. I took one for the team and helped her polish it off. How considerate of me I know.
Said golden nuggets of goodness from the first picture. This is one of those moments where I wish the WIlly Wonka technology could work where the food would appear on the computer screen and then appear in my room in 3D real life edible yumminess.
When there is a 100 degree day, there is only one way to really get around a water town. And that is on a pedicab. We zoomed around for the low price of 10 kuai and were able to pass the rivers and head to the pagoda on the cobblestone streets without breaking much of a sweat. Sheer brilliance.
One of the stores in both Suzhou and Tongli that has been so cool to see is the postcard shop. I had no idea that this was a famous brand, but they have quite a reputation in the water towns around Shanghai and then have a couple branches in Shanghai itself. While the space is unique in its artsy vibe and cool study spaces, the really distinguishing factor for this store chain is that they will mail postcards to your future self. For a 2 kuai fee (that’s 30 cents), you can have them send it to a specific address 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, etc up until 12 months in the future. Then for an additional 8 kuai, they can hold onto your postcard for several years. The longest time they will wait is 10 years. Not sure I would be able to do that because who knows where I will be living in 9 months, let alone 10 years, but you could see that lots of people had taken advantage of the month increments and were buying postcards to have sent to their future selves. Such a cool idea!
While it was a beautiful day, it was definitely one of the hotter ones we had had in a while here in China. And the people of Tongli were definitely feeling it. This guy had figured out the way to handle the heat quite effectively though.
Another one of the famous sites in Tongli is the Tuisi gardens. These gardens are old homes that people used to live in. One of the rooms had a sign at the entrance saying that it was a room where “ordinary guests” were asked to wait. Once inside the house, it became more and more majestic. All the way at the back was this small enclave with a beautiful pond and great views. It was a wonderful break and absolutely stunning to look at as we sat and watched the goldfish swimming around in the pond below us.