November 2017. “Where are we going next?” I asked Amy, more than a little intrigued by the Magical Mystery Tour tone of the day. “Bao Ancestral Hall” she replied, running her finger across the little map we’d picked up from the hotel. “If I can find it”. We’d just finished checking out the atmospheric Nanyang Bridge on the outskirts of Sixi Town, I hadn’t realised there was anything else of note nearby. In the end we found what we were looking for hidden away from the main road down a wild country trail. Spying the padlocked gate, I initially thought the place was closed. “Wait!” said Amy, “let’s try it…”
November 2017. Sure enough the lock could easily be lifted and the rusty iron bar slid to one side, gaining us access. Walking into the walled complex, it quickly became clear that whatever the hell Bao Ancestral Hall had been, it was now in a state of disrepair.
November 2017. Thank god for Amy, without her I wouldn’t have had a clue what I was visiting and indeed there proved to be little information online when I tried to dig deeper back at the hotel. Basically this was a temple complex dedicated to the ancestors of the respected Song Dynasty statesmen Bao Zheng, a man so famed for his honest and upright character that he has become a symbol of justice throughout China.
November 2017. It was easy to get the feel of what a magnificent place this must have been hundreds of years ago when Bao Family Ancestral Hall was in full swagger. Today the unloved garden is overgrown and wild but has bags of charm, the kind of place you could sit and nap in, or park yourself under a tree with a good book.
November 2017. It was fascinating to walk around Bao Family Ancestral Hall exploring all its nooks and crannies. Some of the plants and trees were amazing, I’d never seen anything like them before, while elsewhere there were rusted iron rails and crumbly wooden doors and signs with patches of bright paint still shining through the general gloom.
November 2017. If I thought the garden was run down, it was nothing compared to what awaited us when Amy and I actually headed inside the temple itself.
November 2017. The interior is a total mess. This courtyard was perhaps the most photogenic of all the rooms, most of which were filled with litter, rotting furniture, broken pots, shattered glass and sheets of fallen leaves. It was simultaneously sad and enchanting, reminding me a bit of Miss Haversham’s overgrown place in Great Expectations. In any case I’m glad I got to see Bao Family Ancestral Hall, as it provided an interesting change of tone from Taishun County’s collection of elegant old bridges.
Check out my other articles from around Taishun County.
For more on the region, have a look at my travel reports from around Zhejiang Province.
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