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Tongli Washday

Saturday is washday in Tongli, the same as every other place in China. The difference in Tongli is that instead of a tub in the kitchen, you just take your tub down to the water’s edge in the canal. Despite the murky water the clothes come out looking surprisingly clean, from a distance. Then, hang your washing up on the path outside your house, using a string strung between any two adjacent uprights – trees, poles, scaffolding etc. I guess you shouldn’t be too embarrassed about the neighbours seeing your daggy baggy undies, and that bra with the hole in it….because you can see theirs.

Braised Tongli Pork…..Dribbling Yet?

Never, ever visit Tongli without trying their version of Wansan pork. You will regret it for the rest of your days. This slow-cooked, sweet, meltingly tender bit of pig’s leg can be carved with a spoon, or a single chopstick, depending on your preference. It’s that tender. If you want to relive the experience at home, back in your poky Shanghai kitchen, you can buy a take-away leg or three from one of the many vendors lining the last street in Tongli before you leave. Try not to open the foil bag and eat it on the way home………….

Tongli Wedding

We just spent a weekend in Tongli – it’s a small town west of Shanghai with a maze of small canals and old stone houses. Despite the bitter cold a happy wedding group set off to the ear-splitting sound of hundreds of confetti fire-crackers, followed by an entourage of friends and family as they walked beside the canal on their way to good food and a day of celebration.

Now, in Tongli there are 49 stone bridges criss-crossing the canals, but three are particularly famous – the Taiping (peace) bridge, the Jili (luck) bridge and the Changqing (celebration) bridge. Newlyweds should walk over all three to guarantee a long and harmonious marriage filled with good fortune.