On the Friday morning, we arranged a late start at 9:30, but I woke long before that, as is my habit, and after a quick breakfast .of oil tea, steamed bread, boiled egg etc, I headed out into the cold early morning and wandered around the hotel grounds. Apart from a river view and a bizarre (but common) mangling of my native tongue, there wasn't much to see.
So, I returned to hotel, put on more clothes and examined some of the artwork around the foyer as I waited for the others to join me.
Eventually, everyone arrived and we headed into the town centre, which was but a stone's throw away. We started at Sanjiang Wind and Rain Bridge. Unfortunately we were unable to visit the best such bridge, that at Chenyang village. Although it is sometimes said to be ancient, the current bridge was actually erected in 1916 after the previous one was swept away in an exceptionally severe flood.
There is only one road to that bridge and it is un-passable at the moment as they are resurfacing and widening it. As I've said before elsewhere, the bridge is made entirely without nails and apart from the concrete pillars on which it rests is all wooden.
Here is Chengyang Bridge
But as we couldn't get there, we made do with Sanjiang Bridge. I was disappointed because I know several people in that village and had hoped to see them. Next time!
The Sanjiang bridge is made in the traditional way, but non-traditionally is a road bridge on one of the main roads out of town.
We strolled across the bridge, which is only seven years old and went to a Dong culture museum. Perhaps the most interesting exhibit is a mock-up of a Dong wooden house interior.
Although this is a recreation of a Dong home, I have stayed in many real homes and this is an accurate simulation.
Looking up inside.
By now it was almost time for lunch, but first a visit to a teashop, where we sampled some excellent teas and some of us made purchases. I came away with this.
This is 虫宝茶 chóng bǎo chá, literally insect treasure tea. The treasure is that it is insect excrement. The bugs, caterpillars of a type of moth, eat the tea leaves and when they come out the other end the droppings are gathered and dried, then used to make a refreshing cup of tea! They are mixed with regular undigested tea. It is considered medicinal and effective against stomach complaints. I tried a cup before buying this jar. It tasted like tea but with a sort of fungal taste in the background. Not bad.
Again, as required, we started with oil tea.
Tofu to add to the fish hotpot
Steamed chicken with its offal.
Some kind of pork and vegetable dish. It was strange.
Then we saw the diplomats off by high speed trains and headed back home - a three hour drive. But not before another brief shopping trip here.
where we met this ugly and not very intelligent chap who was doing his best to mate with a traffic cone.
and I bought a big mushroom. Ganoderma.
Back home, we were peckish again so hit the local hotel restaurant for a nice bowl of the city's speciality - luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn) . Snail noodles. Then home.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and met some nice people.