Travel Report: Bao Family Ancestral Hall, Taishun County.
November 2017. “Where are we going next?” I asked, more than a little intrigued by the Magical Mystery Tour feel of the day. “Bao Family Ancestral Hall” replied Amy, 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.
Eventually, after several false starts, we found what we were looking for hidden away off 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…”
Bao Family Ancestral Hall, Taishun County.
Sure enough the lock just needed lifting and the rusty iron bar slid to one side, gaining us access. Walking inside, it quickly became clear that whatever this place had once been, it was now in a state of disrepair.
This walled temple complex honours the ancestors of the respected Song Dynasty statesmen Bao Zheng. A man, Amy explained, famed for his honest and upright character. So much so, that in China his name has actually become synonymous with the very concept of justice.
I remember thinking what an amazing site this was, and one that had not a single English language footprint online. It really was one of those travel experiences where I had to stop myself and say, “this is special”.
It was easy to get a feel for what a magnificent place this must have been hundreds of years ago. Today the unloved garden sits wild and overgrown. Nevertheless, it has bags of charm, the kind of place you could sit and nap in. Or park yourself under a tree with a good book.
Taishun County, China.
It was fascinating to walk around exploring all the nooks and crannies. Some of the plants and trees are amazing, I’d never seen anything like them. Elsewhere, there were rusted iron rails and crumbly wooden doors. Moreover, I spied several painted signs with patches of bright Chinese characters standing out through the general gloom.
If I thought the garden was run down, it was nothing compared to what awaited us when we actually headed inside the temple itself.
The interior is a total mess. This courtyard, pictured below, is perhaps the most photogenic of all the rooms. Most of which were filled with litter, rotting furniture, broken pots, shattered glass and mounds of fallen leaves.
It was simultaneously sad and enchanting, reminding me a bit of Miss Haversham’s overgrown mansion in Great Expectations. In any case, I’m glad I got to see Bao Family Ancestral Hall. After all, I hadn’t even known of its existence and it provided an interesting interlude 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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