A city in northeast China that resembles the Italian city of Venice starts offering gondola rides as part of their tourist attractions. Helena Williams reports.
An enchanting gondola ride down a canal flanked by classic Italian architecture could only happen in one place -- or could it? Not if you're visiting Dalian in northeast China, which has created it's very own Venice. The development project, named East Montage, bears an uncanny resemblance to the classical European city, and is even offering boat trips to tourists. SOUNDBITE Dalian resident and tourist, Zhang Juang, saying (Mandarin): "(This) is a good thing. This is a opportunity for those who can't go abroad to enjoy scenery from foreign countries and expand their horizons by learning about foreign customs and practices. This is really good." SOUNDBITE tourist from Harbin City in Heilongjiang Province, Ding Yingrong, saying (Mandarin) "Nowadays, cement and tall buildings shaped like blocks are everywhere, and there is little chance to see water, mountains or even nature. This is pretty natural, and I feel relaxed." Developers say the project has cost $1.26 billion to construct so far. SOUNDBITE Vice general manager of Dalian East District Corporation Yan Wei, saying (Mandarin) "(We took) architecture from Venice and France as blueprints. We channelled seawater to the four-kilometre-long canal to create what is for China an unprecedented kingdom on the ocean and architectural development. We can proudly say that our East Montage project, since the start of its construction, has made room for an urban culture, with iconic buildings." It's not an exact replica of the original floating city, But frescoes reminiscent of the renaissance era and four kilometres of Venetian-style canal have already attracted a steady stream of sightseers.