On the waterfront II

Everything you see in the park is made of cardboard cartons, from figurines and animals to hats, bags and furniture.

"They are not just for display," explains Chen Weilin, general manager of the Carton King Creativity Park. "A chair made of cartons can support as much weight as 200 kg."

The park is the Taiwan company's first store on the Chinese mainland, Chen says. "All the materials are recycled corrugated paper to make furniture and crafts, which are environment-friendly and creative," Chen says.

Chen is optimistic about the future of the park. "With the rapid development of Chinese economy, tourists' purchasing power will increase, and there will be great development space in Zhouzhuang (famous old town for China vacation deals)."

The 1086 Street is another new site to showcase local cultural heritage. The 200-meter-long street is a concentration area of lodging and catering. More recreational facilities like bars and coffee shops have been planned for construction in the near future, according to Ren.

Some of the businesses are run by people from other parts of the country.

Bar owner Guo Tao, from Lijiang in Yunnan province (best travel destination for best tours of China), is one of them.

Guo and his wife first visited Zhouzhuang in 2010. "We fell in love with the town during our one-week stay. Then we decided to move here."

Business was not very good two years ago but it's getting better, with more returning customers, Guo says.

"In Zhouzhuang, I can find the freedom of the soul. I hope one day I could buy a house of my own and finally settle down."

On Minsu Street there are dozens of inns run by local residents. The decorations are authentic and the inn-owners are considerate, honest and enthusiastic.

Zhu Sanguan, 72, once an actor, works at a hotel in town.

A few years ago, Zhouzhuang was very quiet with few tourists for popular China tours and people lived a leisurely life, Zhu recalls. "Most of us lived on farming and fishing."

With the town's increasing popularity, the number of tourists skyrocketed. Many people in the town opened hotels and restaurants, and sold souvenirs.

"Life is much better and busier," Zhu says.

"People used to go to bed after the sunset," he says. "Days like that are long gone."

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  1. 2013/09/26(木) 16:14:58|
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