Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sanjiang/Chengyang Bridge

Leaving Ping An I ran into a French couple traveling with their son and daughter in-law on the bus down from Ping An. It turned out they were going to the same place as me, which turned out really helpful. I am not sure I would have made it to the Chengyang Bridge north of Sanjiang if they had not been going there also. The bus from Ping An went to Longsheng and then caught a bus to Sanjiang which would have not been a problem for me alone. It was when we arrived in Sanjiang that I was glad to have someone to follow. We were dropped off at one bus station and to get to the Chengyang Bridge we had to go to different bus station on the other side of town. The guide book did not talk about this and really was not clear on how far out of town the bridge was but with the help of my new found friends I made it to the Chengyang Bridge.

There are a number of villages around the Chengyang Bridge and the people in the villages are from the Dong minority. The Dong people build what they call “Rain and Wind Bridges”. These are covered bridges and the Chengyang is suppose to be one of the best examples of this type of bridge and also one of the longest.

I personally was more impressed with the water wheels that they used to water the rice fields than the bridges.

I really enjoyed the place I stayed next to the Chengyang Bridge. It is a very small place called Mary’s Guesthouse and I got to spend some time talking to Mary each evening. She is from the Miao Minority group but her husband is from the Dong Minority. Her English was pretty good on stuff to deal with staying in the guesthouse but was harder to be understood when asking questions about the minorities. I had read that when a Dong child was born they plant a number of trees for the child and cut them down when the child turns 18 so ask if they had planted trees when her daughter was born. She did not really understand what I was asking until I said something about 18 year trees. She then told me the trees are only planted when a boy is born and then cut down and used to build him a house when he turns 18. I had also read something about a Miao tradition of kidnapping a bride but never was able to be understood on that one to know if her husband had kidnapped her.

I spent one day just walking around the Dong villages next to the bridge and one day riding up the valley to a different town that had a market. The first day when I was walking around I got sort of pulled into one of the village drum towers where they gave me tea. The drum tower seemed to be the hang out for all the old men in the village. It turned out they had pulled me in to ask for money to refurbish the drum tower. I gave them a couple of Yuan and went on my way. This is a picture of the drum tower.

When walking around in the villages I expected to run into the French couple that had been such a help in getting me there but was surprised to run into the Spanish couple that I had been on the bus with to Ping An. It is just a small world at times when traveling and everyone following the same guidebook. It did not even occurred to me until I was writing this blog entries but I never seem to exchange names with people. I know everybody by their nationality but have no clue of their names.

That day I rode a bike. I rented a really nice bike but I am not use to hills and had to get off and walk up at least one of the hills on the ride. The great thing was that I rode up river in the morning so the ride back in the afternoon was a lot more down hill than up. Here is a picture of the valley along the way.

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