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  1. Gongguo-Bridge-in-Yunlong-County,Dali

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The Pi River, also known as the Bijiang (沘 江) is a tributary river to the Lancangjiang (Mekong) and is located northwest of Dali in western Yunnan.The river is crossed by a multitude of ancient bridges of which some are lovingly maintained while others get more and more neglected.

Pi River Valley

The Pi River, also known as the Bijiang (沘 江) is a tributary river to the Lancangjiang (Mekong) and is located northwest of Dali in western Yunnan.

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The river is crossed by a multitude of ancient bridges of which some are lovingly maintained while others get more and more neglected. Tiny Adventures Tours makes a tour visiting the valley and these bridges.

Hamlet in the Pi River Valley.Bai hamlet in the Pi River valley. A lot of the buildings are still made using the rammed earth technique or adobe bricks.The Taiji shaped river near Yunlong.Nature's Taiji symbol just north of Yunlong.

Taiji shaped river

Just north of Yunlong the Pi River makes a double bend and makes a perfect Taiji symbol ( 太 极 图 ).

empty spacer Taiji symbol.

From the mountain 375 metres above the symbol one has the best view of the symbol.

Nuodeng.The ancient village of Nuodeng just north of Yunlong.


One easily can spend a day in the ancient village of Nuodeng. Sample the local ham and watch how salt is made.

For more on Nuodeng see our special Nuodeng Page.

Huiming Bridge.The Huiming Bridge south of Yunlong.Huiming bridge with cows crossing.Not only humans take the bridge.

Huiming Bridge

The Huiming Bridge, south of Yunlong, is one of the few double chain bridges. The present form dates from 1886. The largest span is 26 metres.

Bridge head of the Huiming Bridge.The pavilion at the eastern bridge head.empty spacer.

The pavilion on the east bank carries the text 计划生育 优惠到家 (Ji-hua-sheng-yu You-hui-dao-jia), meaning "One child policy, benefit to each household".

Birth control text.One child policy. Benefit to each household.empty spacer.

Text like these were ones very common in public places but have now largely disappeared.

Huiming Bridge.The Huiming Bridge seen from the north.Huiming Bridge in 2014.In 2014 the Huiming Bridge even got solar powered electric lights.Qingyun bridge near Yunlong.The Qingyun chain bridge across the Pi river just outside Yunlong as seen in May 2012.Qingyun bridge from above.Pavilions form the bridge heads of the Qingyun Bridge. The west one contains a small altar.empty spacer.The chains of the broken bridge.The nearly 200 year old iron chains of the bridge are pulled out of the water.

Qingyun Bridge

The Qingyun Bridge is located just outside Yunlong and was ones one of the most important bridges spanning the Pi River.

This iron chain bridge with a span of 36 metres was constructed during the Qing Dynasty in 1824.

The original bridge was financed by a personal contribution of the governor of Shiaanxi. It formed an important link in the salt trade.

Qingyun bridge 2008-01.The Qingyun bridge as seen in January 2008.empty spacer.

It is a pity that these old bridges on the Pi River are hardly cared for. The Quingyun Bridge slowly gets absorbed by waste dumped around it and is hardly accessible anymore.

Qingyun Bridge in November 2012.Signs warning that the bridge has been washed away. (Photo: October 2012)empty spacer.

In 2012 the bridge got washed away by a flash flood. The sign (See picture above) states that the bridge will be rebuilt but they could start with stopping the dumping of waste near the bridge. Building waste dumped in and near the river might have contributed to the destruction of the bridge.

Soon the bridge might only exist on pictures.Pictures of the Qingyun Bridge before and after the flood wave. (Photo: October 2012).Statue at the Qingyun Bridge.Statue of Bodhisattva Guanyin the guardian deity inside her pavilion.

New Qingyun Bridge

The Qingyun Bridge did got rebuild in 2013. The old chains were used again and the roof was rebuild over the eastern bridgehead.

The guardian goddess Bodhisattva Guanyin got a makeover of fresh paint and new clothes for the child in her lap, hopefully this will protect the bridge better. The dumping of building waste around the bridge has however not stopped so the same disaster is likely to happen again.

Qingyun bridge.The Qingyun bridge was rebuild. Even the roof is back on the eastern bridgehead. The dumping of construction waste has however not stopped so the same accident is likely to happen again.Qingyun Bridge.With a new roof and a fresh coat of paint the Qingyun Bridge nearly blends in with the new developments of Yunlong town. (Photo: January 2014).Zhongzhao Bridge just north of Yunlong.The double span Zhongzhou Bridge just north of Yunlong.Anlang Bridge.Donkeys, a man and a dog on the Anlang Bridge.

Anlang Bridge

Despite the modern road bridge in Changxin village the Anlang Bridge there is still popular and often used. This probably because the bridge connects the market with the minibus station on the main road and especially on market days the bridge is quite busy.

Woman and child crossing Anlang Bridge.The Anlang Bridge. empty spacer.

The bridge is 60 metres long and has the largest span of all the bridges crossing the Pi River (The two double span bridges are longer but cross the river in two steps).

Tongjing Bridge.The Tongjing Bridge north of Yunlong.Tongjing Bridge.The Tongjing Bridge blends nicely into the surroundings.empty spacer.Girls shopping at the hole in the wall shop at the Tongjing Bridge bridgehead.The pavilion at the eastern bridgehead contains a hole in the wall shop selling things like ice creams and toilet paper and everything in between.empty spacer.Man on horse passing the Tongjing Bridge.Sometimes it looks like these bridges are used more frequently by animals than by people.

Tongjing Bridge

The imposing Tongjing Bridge spanning the Pi River north of Yunlong, is the largest wooden bridge in Yunnan. Originally this bridge was constructed in 1776 but the present form dates from a bit later in the Qing dynasty. The name refers to the salt and silver trade. The bridge has a span of 30 metres.

empty spacer.Joss sticks at the Tongjing Bridge.Joss sticks placed at the stone describing the history of the bridge.empty spacer.

The pavilion on the east bank has a small shop and ones had even a small restaurant. The west bank pavilion has the traditional temple and next to it located the medical clinic. The temple, shop and clinic shows the importance of this bridge.

The Tongjing Bridge is actively used and kept in a good shape and one of the finest examples of a Yunnan wooden covered bridge.

Tongjing Bridge.Tongjing Bridge.In winter, when the water is low, one can see the intricate construction of the bottom of the bridge very well.Tongjing Bridge.Caifeng Bridge in the green.The Caifeng Bridge north of Yunlong.Interior of the Caifeng Bridge.The Caifeng Bridge interior.empty spacer.Joss sticks at Caifeng Bridge.Joss sticks offered at the Caifeng Bridge.

Caifeng Bridge

The well maintained Caifeng Bridge spanning the Pi River north of Yunlong, is the second largest wooden bridge spanning the Pi River. Originally this bridge was constructed in 1628 but the present form dates from the Chongzhen reign period of the Qing dynasty era. The bridge has a span of 27 metres.

Caifeng Bridge.The Caifeng Bridge is well located and from it one can walk to the mysterious Xuantian pavilion a bit further up the mountain that guards the access to Shundangjing hamlet.Xiantian Pavilion with protective wall.Xuantian Pavilion.Xuan Wu statue in the Xuantian Pavilion.Statue of Xuan Wu the guardian deity inside his pavilion.

Xiantian Pavilion

The Xiantian Pavilion is the access gate in the wall protecting Shundangjing.

empty spacer.Fengshui wall at the back of the Xiantian gate.The fengshui wall at the end of the gate to prevent bad spirits to get into the village.empty spacer.

The Xiantian pavilion houses a statue of Xuan Wu (玄武, "Dark" or "Mysterious Warrior") a Taoist deity that is always depicted with sword, the three mountain hand seal, snake and turtle. He is also known as the "Mysterious Heavenly Upper Emperor" (玄天上帝Xuantian Shangdi).

Shundangjing hamlet.The Shundangjing hamlet hiding behind the Xuantian gate.Shuanlong Bridge.The Shuanlong Bridge with the Pi River in the foreground.

Shuanlong and Jiancao Bridge

These two bridges that are similar in construction are both located on small side streams of the Pi River. The Shuanlong Bridge is located in the fields in the middle of nowhere also recently the path behind it got enlarged.

Shuanlong Bridge.The Shuanlong Bridge. empty spacer.

The Jiancao Bridge is located in Jiancaoxiang a small village in a side valley of the Pi River valley. The bridge links the two parts of the village together. It is a pitty that, like at many bridges, so much rubbish is dumped in the river around this bridge. Jiancaoxiang is renowned for it fruit spirit made in a distillery next to the bridge.

Jiancao Bridge inside.Inside the Jiancao Bridge.Jiancao Bridge.The Jiancao Bridge is located in Jiancaoxiang a small village in a side valley of the Pi River valley.Rattan bridge spanning the Pi river.The Shundang Rattan Bridge with a span of 27 metres.Xu Ying crossing a ratan bridge.

Rattan bridges

Not only ancient wooden and iron-chain-bridges are spanning the Pi River but there are several bridges made of rattan as well. The largest of these has a span of 30 metres.

Access path to ratan bridge.
The access path to the Shundang Rattan Bridge.empty spacer.

These rattan bridges are hard to find because they blend in with the nature around them. How much longer these rattan bridges will last is unclear; already the rattan has been replaced by metal wire and steel cables on most of them.

Rattan bridge.The Shundang Rattan Bridge in winter.Temporary bamboo bridge across the Pi River.
During the dry season farmers construct temporary bridges, often made from bamboo, across the Pi River in order to get in an easy way across the river to their fields on the other side.The last bend in the Pi River before it joins the Lancanjiang.
Not only ancient bridges span the Pi River but some new ones as well like this hanging bridge at the last bend of the Pi River.

Tiny Adventures Tours offers various tours that include the Pi River Valley. The Pi River Valley can be combined with other destinations in western Yunnan like Dali, Donglianhua, Shaxi, the Burma Road etc. A nice place to stay is the ancient village of Nuodeng.

The Pi River Valley can be cycled and is suitable for making walks like climbing to the Taiji symbol lookout point.

The Tianchi Nature Reserve is around a reservoir high in the mountains and can be visited in a day trip from Yunlong.

Accommodation will be in Yunlong or Nuodeng.

Admission Fee:¥0

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