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Wandering around Shaxi Sideng Street in Western Yunnan

Post Time: May 04 2014 By Vanessa Li

In a golden October, my friends and I started from Jianchuan County, we passed through a beautiful and picturesque plain on the dam, walked along the Heijiang river valley towards south for 20 miles, and then we arrived at Shaxi sideng Street in Dali in the Western Yunnan.
Shaxi at dusk likes a colorful oil painting. With several pieces of flaming cloud in the sky and mountains in the surrounding, the rays of the sunset slanted in streams through the trees. The shinning Heijiang flows through the dam from north to south. Mountain, river, Bai ethnic country, the red walls and green tile with trees around make up an amazing picture.

Sideng Street located in the center of plain on the dam, with tall Aofeng Mountain in one side and clear Heijiang in the other side. In the ancient times, there were three Zhaizi Gates in the east, south and north side around the Sideng Street. Here used to be an important post-house of Ancient Tea Route and “Southwest Silk Road”. Going straight towards north is Zhongdian---a hinterland of Sichuan-Tibet; going towards south through west side of Cangshan is Yellow River Plain. World Monument Fund believed that “China Shaxi Sideng Street district is the only country fair along the whole Ancient Tea Route.”

Walking into Sideng Street, the sunset in the street consist of a quaint and mysterious street view. The aged Red flagging stone road shows years of vicissitudes. Surrounded by trees, on either side of street are lined with old shops built in Bai ethnic style which is store in the front and yard in the back. The old lanes of Tong Street built with bluestone, which are crooked and charming. We entered into several vernacular dwellings, appreciated carved architecture of Bai ethnic. I was captured by that craftsmanship and I enjoyed the lifestyle of Bai ethnic.

Coming to central downtown, Square Street appears into our eyes. The square street here is larger than Square Street in Lijiang. There are old shops around Square Street, and two old locust trees are in the central which give some shade to people. In the south side, there is an old opera stage in the central of three-floors building of aquatint. Square Street is the bustling place here; you can buy some special products here, like Fenpi, Rubing, Yundou. Though the whole market is full of people, it is different from other places, the tradesmen here is unhurried. During Every fifteenth of February, Torch Festival, people come here to watch opera.

In the west of Square Street, there is a grand temple, Xingjiao Temple, which is the only Azhali Buddha temple of Ming Dynasty. Standing in this temple, accompanied by the seeting sun and cypress, it seems that you can hear a Sanskrit song.

Thought Sideng Street built in Yuan and Ming Dynasty, the history of this district is longer than Sideng Street. The bronzes unearthed from ancient tombs which in the southwest of Sideng Street were in Spring and Autumn Period to Han Dynasty; Heihui River was lied in Yujin Bridge; and in the northwest of street, Shizhongshan Grotto which caved in the period of Nanzhao Dali Kingdom told us that businessmen and monks came to Shaxi frequently. All of these show that Sideng had a long and profound history, and witnessed the commercial communication between people.

As it grown late, we accommodated ourselves in Sideng Street. The Sideng Street was enveloped in a curtain of darkness, and stars were shining. In such a silent atmosphere, Sideng Street becomes especially tranquil and serene, poetic and picturesque.

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Vanessa Li

Vanessa Li

Position:Travel Consultant

I'm delighted to be able to help you in your journeys. As the great Mark Twain said: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So sail away from the safe harbour. Explore. Dream. Discover!” You can only appreciate home after you've been somewhere else, and the greater the journey, the greater the appreciation! So come to China for one of the greatest journeys you could ever take! 

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