Okay, it’s not really a secret but that’s what I thought every time I read something about the small town of Sanhe before visiting it on Monday during the Mid-Autumn Festival because every time I found something about it in English the town’s name was followed by Ancient Chinese Town. What our little band of adventurers found out though is that Sanhe has sights not just important to ancient China but more recent China too.
Sanhe is about an hour’s bus ride south of Hefei (12 Yuan each way). That’s where the adventure began, trying to find the bus depot. According to Google Maps it was supposed to be in one place that we were familiar with but really it wasn’t anywhere near there. After about an hour of walking around, asking people and getting mixed up Chinese directions, Melissa and I got in a taxi to take us to the depot where Aaron was already waiting. He decided a cab would be the best route much sooner than we did.
Of course we got stares from the onset. Even though there are signs in English at the sites in Sanhe and there are English websites telling you to visit it, not many foreigners make the trek to this little town. We got there easily enough and started wandering around. Soon we were attacked by pedi-cab drivers petitioning us to go with them. We found a map though that was in English and decided not to indulge them.
That’s when we found the first of the three rivers (Sanhe means three rivers) with beautiful stone bridges arching over and a tall pagoda on the bank. It was beautiful. We decided to climb up this pagoda that was seven stories high with itty bitty steep stairs to get views of the whole town. This town isn’t only famous because of the bridges but because of the architecture that is unique to the buildings of Sanhe.
As I hiked up the steep stairs, I noticed a sweet fragrance on the air. When I reached the top I found out where it came from. The top floor had several effigies of Buddha and you could pay to burn incense or light candles.
As we wandered the small streets and alleyways, we found other sites including some Buddhist temples, homes of former Chinese dignitaries from many centuries ago to some dignitaries from Mao’s time. However, you had to pay to go in and visit each of these sites, so we just admired from the outside. There was still plenty to see and experience. Anyway, we had already paid to go in the pagoda (10 Yuan).
Three things stick out to me about this adventure; the Buddhist temple, the opera dinner boat and the restaurants. As I read about this town before we went, I found a repeated that said something like “if you want to make a tour, go to Yellow Mountain. For food make a visit to Sanhe.” So we expected some good food. What we found is that if you want fresh seafood go to Sanhe.
There were many little eateries throughout the town and most of them had little buckets in front with live fish, crawdads, turtles, eels and giant river oysters all to be eaten. None of us were in a fish mood but we did find a yummy little place with some good fried rice, noodles and dumplings and it was cheap too.
To be continued …