Travel Report: Sixi Town, Taishun County.
Sixi Town Taishun County.
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 even lucky enough to spend a memorable day touring the actual bridges during my stay in Iowa, USA.
Thus you can imagine my excitement when I heard about a region of southeast China that’s also home to a number of ancient, covered wooden bridges. Taishun County is a remote, rural region of Zhejiang Province. Like most bridge hunting visitors, I decided to stay in the county’s main hub, Sixi Town. This sleepy lakeside community is wonderfully atmospheric, with traditional architecture, crowing roosters and a dramatic backdrop of rolling mountains.
Sixi Town, Taishun County.
Everything moves slowly in Sixi Town. This was certainly a refreshing change from the honking, traffic-infested chaos of Ruian, my home city at the time. The main street has a modest collection of shops, where the owners seem more interested in sleeping than selling. These women were running an arts and crafts store, but didn’t seem bothered about the lack of customers.
Sixi Town’s main street also has fruit and veg stores, traditional toy shops selling wooden catapults of all things and a few low-key restaurants.
These brothers run a general store on Sixi Town’s main street. They were very friendly and even agreed to pose for this photo. As a result, I made sure to pick up a few packets of peanuts for their troubles.
A dedicated team of local volunteers keep Sixi Town’s small park in shape. On that first day, they were out in numbers cutting the grass, pulling up weeds, trimming trees and planting vegetables. Meanwhile, one old dude was patching up a section of the bamboo fence that runs alongside the main path.
The Taishun Teacake!
Every morning, before heading off on our Taishun County adventures, Amy and I would grab breakfast at A Bite of Leaf Cafe. Located just across from the park, it’s the only place in town where you can get a fresh cup of coffee. They also sell Taishun Teacakes, a soft pastry with a sweet filling, usually red date.
A Bite of Leaf Cafe.
I loved their Taishun Teacakes! Moreover, the cafe owners got so excited by my presence they asked to have their picture taken with me. “Please hold a teacake!” one of them insisted. Within minutes the photo had been shared on WeChat Moments, one of China’s biggest social media feeds.
It was also in A Bite Of Leaf that I told Amy about The Bridges of Madison County. She then relayed the story to the owners, who began getting very excited. In fact, suddenly one of the women was running over to a bookshelf.
The Bridges of Madison County.
Snatching a paperback, she hurried it over to our table. It was The Bridges of Madison County translated into Chinese! Amy literally started reading it there and then.
Sixi Town, Taishun County.
Last but not least, Sixi Town is home to some of Taishun County’s coolest guesthouses. I stayed at Tai Shun Laocuo Guesthouse, a traditional townhouse with classical wooden furniture and rooms set above an open courtyard and fish pond. They only speak Chinese, hence you’ll need to get a friend to call and book ahead. Its Chinese name is 顺老错客栈 and their telephone number is 0577 67641618.
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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