Bao Family Ancestral Hall, November 2017. “There should be a temple or something down here!” said Amy, her finger running across the little map we’d picked up from the hotel. We’d just finished checking out Nanyang Bridge on the outskirts of Sixi Town and hadn’t realized there was something else of note nearby. Hidden away from the main road down a wild country trail, we initially thought it was closed when we saw the padlocked gate.
Nanyang Bridge, November 2017. Visitors to Tai Shun County’s Sixi Town can treat themselves to the sights of Xi Dong and Beijian, two of the region’s most impressive ancient wooden bridges. For most people that’s enough, but I’d gotten a real taste for bridge-hunting and was also keen to track down Nanyang, a third structure located out on the main road exiting Sixi to the northeast.
Beijian Bridge, November 2017. Located in Sixi Town, Beijian Bridge is one of Tai Shun County’s most picturesque spots. Initially camouflaged by a stupendous one thousand year old camphor tree, you’ll need to make your way to the start of the lake’s stepping-stones before the bridge fully reveals itself.
Xi Dong Bridge, November 2017. Many of Taishun County’s ancient, wooden bridges are located in deep, rural countryside. In most cases you’ll need a car to get anywhere near them, but happily Xi Dong Bridge lies right in the heart of Sixi Town. Just walk down the old shopping street by the lake and you literally can’t miss Xi Dong, right next to the Waterside Palace.
Sixi Town, 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.
Jile Temple, February 2010. Harbin’s beautiful Jile Temple, also known as the Monastery of Bliss, was constructed in 1924 by Master Tanxu; a famous disciple of the Tiantai Buddhist clan. Although firmly under the radar as a Harbin attraction, the temple stands as the biggest Buddhist building complex in Heilongjiang Province and draws a steady flow of worshippers.
Siberian Tiger Park, February 2010. Visitors to the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin are attracted by the promise of stunning Russian architecture and the world’s most impressive Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival. Less trumpeted, but equally fascinating in its own way is this eerie Siberian Tiger Park Preserve situated 14 km outside the city centre.