1. November 2017. I’m a huge fan of the Robert James Waller novel The Bridges of Madison County, not to mention the brilliant movie adaptation starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep. Some years ago I was lucky enough to spend a memorable day touring the actual bridges during my stay in Iowa, USA. So when I heard about a county in southeast China that was also home to hundreds of ancient, covered wooden bridges, I naturally jumped at the chance to check them out. My Tai Shun base was Sixi Town, a sleepy lakeside community with traditional architecture and crowing roosters, framed by a dramatic backdrop of rolling mountains.
2. November 2017. Everything moves slowly in Sixi, a refreshing change from the honking, traffic-infested chaos of Rui’an where I live and work as an English teacher. The main street has a modest collection of shops, where the owners seem more interested in sleeping than selling. There are fruit and veg stores, traditional toy shops selling wooden catapults and a huge restaurant housed in a magnificent old building with wooden beams and a tiled roof.
3. November 2017. This gorgeous town park is kept in shape by a team of dedicated locals. On the day of my visit they were cutting the grass, pulling up weeds, trimming trees and planting vegetables, while one old dude patched up the wooden fence running alongside the central path.
4. November 2017. This beautiful deep green lake sits next to the town park. The stepping stone walkway in the background serves as the approach to Beijian Bridge, a gorgeous structure guarded by an equally magnificent one thousand year old Camphor tree. Xi Dong Bridge meanwhile, no ugly duckling itself, is just a ten-minute walk down the old shopping street.
5. November 2017. I was initially horrified to discover that Sixi has no coffee shop. So my travel buddy and I settled for the amusingly named A Bite of Leaf café for a large pot of tea, a chicken roll and some Tai Shun teacakes – a kind of soft flaky pastry with a sweet date filling. And as fate would have it, we even found a copy of The Bridges of Madison County!
Check out my other articles from around Taishun County.
For more on the region, have a look at My 5s from around Zhejiang Province.
Like these? Then why not leaf through my many other 5s from all across China.
I’ve also written a short story series called Challenged in China.