Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008


Sometimes you want China to look like it does in ancient ink paintings, a place of arched bridges, narrow lanes and sun-dappled pavilions. Nanxun, one of dozens of canal towns just a couple hours' drive from Shanghai, allows you to indulge in an imagined China, without the hordes of tourists that plague other Yangtze Delta villages. Hire a boat for around 100 yuan and drift past 18th- and 19th-century villas built by silk and salt merchants. Many incorporate European design elements that hint at the global reach of these Qing-dynasty entrepreneurs before communism severed their trade ties. You can hire a car and driver or even a taxi in Shanghai to take you here.