Museum of Ancient Bridges

Taishun County is situated in southwest Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province. It boasts a zigzagging mountain range dotted with little streams and small valleys. Thousands of years of rich Chinese culture have contributed to the extraordinary attraction of this peaceful county, where visitors can appreciate more than 900 covered bridges.

Upon entering the village, the first sight to hit your eyes is Dongxi Bridge. The corridor of this bridge looks like a crimson palace with four flying eaves engraved at each end.

The bridge, built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), has endured 400 years of weather beating, and continues to stand firmly with a longlasting elegance, although some broken prints can be detected.

In the pre-dawn hours, the silhouette of the bridge appears to be a rainbow rising from outer space.

Not far away, visitors find another covered bridge of similar structure and style - Beijian Bridge. The main structure of this bridge has 15 small covered rooms, which combine to form a long alley. Locals called these two bridges "sister bridges". These two sisters are regarded as the most beautiful rainbow bridges in China, maybe even the world.

Beijian Bridge is a glamorous site. The clear creeks and simple, plain Ming Dynasty-styled houses combine perfectly into a natural, integrated scene.

In Taishun County, one finds a huge number of covered bridges, all of different styles and charms. Each bridge is a new discovery for tourists.

Xianju (place where gods live) Bridge is a wooden arch-bridge with the largest span in the county, surrounded by lush and verdant trees. Lacking lavish decorations like flying eaves and delicate engravings, this bridge lies peacefully as if released from earthly troubles.

The Liuwen Bridge provides a great contrast. It has a luxurious style, which takes visitors back to the wealthy city from this distant hamlet with few inhabitants. It has a three-floor-pavilion with extravagant decorations and a very special calabash-like top. Two aged trees on either side of the bridge set it off in the evening's setting sun. No words are suitable to describe the scene, one can only imagine it as an elegant old painting.

Beyond the wooden arch-bridge, a wooden plate bridge named Yongping presents visitors with a graceful and simple style, boasting prudence and modesty.

The untouchable beauty of Langqiao stimulates the eye. The local houses in Taishun County will create a sincere sense of warmth among visitors. For city creatures, who spend their days surrounded by impersonal concrete, the pebble walls of the houses here are heart warming. Touch the walls and beautiful memories awaken, like a mother's tender kiss on a child's forehead.

Before leaving, take a second look to engrave in your mind and heart the memories of this tranquil place.

Travel Tips

Take train K847, K833 or K811 at Shanghai Railway Station to Wenzhou and the journey will last for about 10 hours. From Wenzhou travellers can take a bus to Taishun County on 52 Niushan Beilu. The ticket is 45 yuan ($6). On arrival, visitors can rent a tricycle for about 50 yuan ($6) a day.

Accommodation in Taishun County is not easy to find. Travelers are recommended to look for a hotel in Wenzhou. The price of a four-star hotel is around 450 yuan ($60).

( Shanghai Star June 27, 2002)