|Chinese Banquets: fun, filling, completely exhausting.|
We took that Wenzhou train, then hopped on a bus to Taishun, and proceeded to backpack our way around Chinese villages. Galen had done some digging and pulled up fascinating information about old bridges, some of which date back to the late Ming dynasty (17th century). Armed with arduously-copied characters, scribbled maps, and a borrowed tent, we ventured into uncharted territory.
Known as langqiao (廊桥, "corridor bridges") and also fengyuqiao (风雨桥 "wind and rain bridges"), these amazing structures are cared for by locals and remain relatively well-preserved.
We seemed to be the only foreigners in the area, and felt this otherness acutely when village kids followed us and gossipy neighbors gaped at us as we passed--to be fair, though, they may have been gaping at our improvised-trashbag-rain-ponchos, my unorthodox wet-weather shoes (clear plastic jellies) or Galen's mountain-man beard.
It rained a lot at first.
Instead of finding hotels (because there weren't really any), we simply found discreet places and set up camp. One time it was a hill overlooking the road and a bevy of stunning graves embedded in verdant hills; another night we tucked into a small farm's nook.
|Galen woke up at 4 am to take this amazing photograph. What a trooper.|
In the morning, we began our search for food. The villages had little need for hospitality services, so restaurants were scant. Some grannies were cooking up breakfast for their friends in a makeshift outdoor eating area though, and offered us a hearty serving of rice-y breakfast...blocks...
I don't know how else to describe them, but they were yummy. Hot and spicy sauces were added. Toothless grannies admired our chopstick skills as we scarfed down their culinary creations.
|a shrine in Sankui--for some reason I'm reminded of Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander"--Uncle Isak's House of Creepy Treasures and all...|
We hiked in our own sweat to Santiao Bridge (built in 1843, so a bit younger) and then rewarded ourselves with a swim, where I promptly lost my jelly sandals in the water. Oops.
These two dudes saw us waiting for the unpredictable bus and offered a ride. When we reached "civilization" they absolutely refused compensation for their troubles--then they invited us to come party in the "big city" of Taishun that evening! We respectfully declined, as we had yet to find a camp spot.
|This bridge was in Sankui.|
|If you weren't interested in crossing covered-style, you could traverse these stones instead.|
I'm guessing, due to the paucity of fellow travelers, that this region is still rather unknown, but as with many sites in China, it may soon become overrun with tourist busses and bored Beijingers. A lounge on the langqiaos was quite the picturesque way to finish up our voyage in China.
More info on the bridges here.