Sisters Lounge Bridge
“We have only 5 km from here to the Sisters Lounge Bridge.”Di glanced at the road sign, expelling the last smoke.
I was on the back seat, staring at the mobile GPS lest we should miss our reserved hotel. Hearing of what Di said, I suddenly raised my head, but still saw nothing about the flashing sign.
We had less than ten minutes’ drive to our hotel, which was located at the Sangzao Town, only two km far from the Luofu Mountain to the southwest. At the foot of the Luofu Mountain was the Luofu Hot-spring Resort.
Arriving at the hotel, the receptionist told us assuringly that the Sisters Lounge Bridge was close to the hotel. But the GPS told us the close distance was 30 km. Then, Di murmured how it could be so close and pressed the accelerator hard heading for the Sisters Lounge Bridge. We drove northeast to the Anchang Town and turned southwest. The street trees looked like magnolia grandiflora, in full bloom in this early February.
Along Anchang River for a few miles, we arrived at the gate of Xunlong Mountain scenic spot. There existed a Triassic conglomerate karst carve, which is the only national geological park of with this carve and the main paleontological site of sponge reefs in An County. The cross sections of the large-scaled sponge reefs were crowded with roe-sized particles, shell fossil of varying sizes from a bead-sized one to fist-sized, more than ten-meter long fossil fishbone, as well as fossil sea snake in coil. It is said that there are only two geological parks like this one in the world and another is the Alps. However, we had no time to pay a visit to learn about the geological history of sponges because of the nightfall.
Further forward, we passed Beichuan and after about ten km’s drive, we reached An County. Behind a construction site, we found a bridge with sheer scale and grandeur.“It must be newly constructed!” Yue, a tour pal of us, directly gave her appraisal. Well, that’s true. The Sisters Lounge Bridge was rebuilt in 2011, duplicating and the old one in the Xiaoba Town and bridging it on the dam. Walking on the bridge, we felt kind of cold in the cool breeze. While looking back, Yue at once recognized the poems carved on the stone. “Cross the dam ‘stride the river we went high, carved beams and painted rafters autumn days.” Dapeng standing beside has already hummed the verse, with his head nodding with rhythm.
After dinner, we went back to the lounge bridge to picture in the veil of night. Di carried his camera and disappeared from our sight into the crowd of night fishers. The lights on the lounge bridge and the Friendship Bridge opposite were adding radiance and beauty to each other. Both of them sat in remained silence in the silence of running water beneath.
Next morning, we consulted the local people on the location of the old bridge was in Xiaoba Town. They told me that we had to drive toward Thousand Buddha Mountain and found Wufu Village. We went according to their routine for five or six km, turned a sharp curve and finally arrived at the village. On our way there, the roadsides were covered with all kinds of lush green vegetables.
With good mountains and good waters, Wufu village also owns a good name, which is derived from the Chapter of Governing Rules of Book, one of the Chinese classics: “Wufu (Five blessings): one refers to longevity, two wealth, three peace, four love for virtues, five peaceful death.”
In the off-season of Wufu Village, we were the only tourists. We asked a woman in a small shop when the bridge was built. She thought for a while and suddenly pointed to an old man: “He is know-all of such things, you should go and ask him.” The old man’s family name was Xiao. When asked about the Sisters Bridge, he was quite refreshedand poured out words: “There were analsophila spirit and a pair of honeysuckle spirits. And the bridge was concerned with them.” He stopped here to keep us guessing; and then he asked us to buy a two-yuan book introducing the legend of the Sisters Bridge.
I’d heard of one version of the legend: the bridge was built by a pair of twin sisters. They planted a lot of trees in the Thousand Buddha Mountain in order to grow enough wood to build a bridge. The god of the mountain was moved by their persistence and helped them with his magic power to grow enough logs for them. With these materials, the twin sister built a bridge relatively with the same structure, which were called Sisters Bridge. But the spirits something I’d never heard of.
FindingI was in interest, Old Xiao took me the village committee office, with only a cabinet and desk inside. He took out a small booklet only of five or six pages from the cabinet and passed it to me. No wonder it was so cheap!
Like many other legends, the legend of Sisters Bridge also happened long long ago. In the Xianglu Mountain at the back of Wufu Village lived a thousands-years-old alsophila tree with a pair of honeysuckle vines growing and intertwined wildly, whose shadows even blotted out the sun and darkened the sky of Thousand Buddha Mountain to the west. The god of Thousand Buddha Mountain came to reason with the Jade Emperor, the god governing the whole world, in strong rage.They found that the alsophila tree and the honeysuckle trees had already bred the spirits in them and fallen in love with each other so that they inseparably intertwined. After the punishment of the Heaven, they disappeared from the Wufu area.
In the Qing Dynasty, a large scale of immigrants moved to Sichuan Province. Two families settled in Wufu Village, one surnamed Huang, another Ge; and they maintained a deep friendship with each other. In the reign of Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820), both of the two families gave birth to their babies: Ge family gota son named Ge Sheng, while Huang Family got twin daughters, named Jinghua and Yinghua (in Chinese, honeysuckle is JIngyinghua). It’s said they were the reincarnation of the parting spirits. When the three children grew up, the twins fell in love with Ge Sheng. Unfortunately, Ge was press-ganged to labor for the army and returned home until his sixties, when the two sisters had already passed away of hard work. Local people told Ge that the two sisters had tried to find him,but were impeded by the rapids for there was no bridge above. Afterwards, Ge collected money for building a bridge on the Chaping River. In 1873, the project was done and the bridge was named Wanglang Bridge, which meant waiting for the lover back. Since 1949, the name was changed into Sisters Bridge.
Legend is merely a legend. Anxiously running water and the poor transportation were not only hindered the romance between lovers, but harmed people’s life. I think that may be the real reason why villagers donated money to build a bridge.
We went there in dry season, so the river was shallow. Hearing of my comments on water, Old Xiao hurriedly explained: “Actually, we are rich in water. But there is a hydropower station upstream. When it works, water is intercepted by the dam. When you come here in summer, you can enjoy the running water by drifting, which starts from June to September and August is the best time. While at that time, our town is quite busy with tourists, and you may even have nowhere to park.”
We waved goodbye to Old Xiao to the Lounge Bridge. It is a wooden lounge bridge with mortise-tenon joints, with every beam on the natural curve of wood arching overhead. The sunlight beams through the cracks in the roof, casting a golden and tender glow over the floor. With more than three thousand years of development, the craftsmanship of wooden-structured buildings has gone through crudeness to maturity and to complication. At the time of Qing Dynasty, it advocated building in a simplistic way: the brackets of the inner eaves were reduced with beams inserted into pillars directly.
After a while, Di was squatting on the riverbed looking for the perfect camera angle; Dapeng stood alongside the river, dazing at the three lovebird-look ducks and lost in thought or in poems he associated; Yue lingered about on the bridge like a beauty in picture walking to me. It’s a pity that she did not wear traditional Chinese clothing,Hanfu for the place was full of antique flavor. The best shooting time there is twilight hours in spring. The graceful Sisters Lounge Bridge with magnificent sunset is very fascinating, which has been listed in the Discovery of Sichuan---100 Best Shooting Places in the Chinese National Geography.
Before we left, Di, sitting on the steps on the side of street, remotely controlled aircraft to cast the aerial pictures of the Sisters Lounge Bridge. Three middle-aged women went near to observe the aircraft. Their eyesight went into mine and quickly shied away to focus on the aircraft. They looked alike to some extend as if they were sisters. In their eyes, I saw no traces of age, but bright hopes that shining in the eyes of young girls.
Yes, our life is just in the beginning.
Public transport: other places-Mianyang (train/bus); Minyang Passenger Terminal-Xiaoba (bus).
Chengdu-Cheng-Mian Highway-Liao’an Road/Xiushui-Xiaoba Road (Road condition is fine; fare charged in highway: 120 yuan.)
No charged tickets.
Recommended: Jiao Duck series special cuisine, Bashu Fish Feast，Zhuajian Villa Insects Feast, Flowers Feast, Zhou Silver Carp.
Mianzhou Hot-Spring Hotel.