Shaxi: A beautiful old town for leisure
Shaxi is a historic market town in Jianchuan County, west Yunnan’s Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture.
A used-to-be trade hub on the ancient Tea-Horse Caravan Road, Shaxi features worn-out yet well-preserved temples, opera stage and alleys.
In 2001 the World Monument Fund added Shaxi’s market square to its Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites, together with the Great Wall, the Ohel Rachel Synagogue in Shanghai, and the Daqin Pagoda in Shaanxi.
Shaxi is a tranquil ancient town that makes tourists feel at home. The blue sky there appeases your weariness, and the time-tested cobble-stone roads lie quietly in the setting sun. In the road-side shops, Bai women are making handicrafts as a pastime.
Here, time lingers on, and natives and tourists get together like family.
Nowadays, traditional cabinets for girls were adapted into guestrooms, unveiling their mysterious interiors that had been frequented only by the privileged. The seemingly decayed doors and windows tell the legends and romances of merchant princes on the ancient Tea-Horse Road in days gone by.
As a Chinese poem by Du Fu goes: “Singing when day is fine, I can’t do without wine; And in spring let us roam and together go home.” If you came to Shaxi, why not indulge yourself for a few days, strolling near the Heihuijiang River in the day and drinking some wine at a pub at night.
You can get to Shaxi Ancient Town either by coach or by car.
The Dali North Coach Station operates passenger coaches to the Jianchuan county seat, where you can change to a green minibus to Shaxi.
If you drive a car, run along the Dali-Lijiang freeway for around 100 kilometers, and get off the freeway onto the national highway for 5 kilometers. Another 30-km drive on the country road will take you to Shaxi.
Photos by Yang Zheng; Text by Li Wenjun, Wang Huan and Wang Shixue