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6:50pm on Thursday, 17th May, 2007:

Places I'd Like to Visit #6


Anhai, China.

There are many places I'd like to visit in China, but Anhai is top of my list. By all accounts, it's in a miserable part of the country, however there's one thing it has that I'd really, really like to see: Anping Bridge. Built from 1138-1151, it's 2.223km long, making it the longest stone-beam bridge in the world during the Middle Ages.

So why, in a country packed with spectacular architecture and glorious scenery, do I want to see something so obscure that it doesn't even merit a Wikipedia entry?

The answer is, I don't know.

I've wanted to see this bridge for as long as I can remember, but I don't know why. I've mentioned in the past my unusual powers of recall, but this has evaded all my attempts to track it down. I can only assume that I must have seen something on TV about it when I was very young — before I was 5, I'd say. I'm fairly limited in my episodic memory before about 7, but the amount of effort I've spent on trying to recall why I want to see this sight should have turned something up. That it hasn't would date it even earlier. All I can be sure of is that it wasn't mentioned at school, as I'd have been able to get that. I do have a single, early image of the bridge in my mind, but I sense that's from later (but still before I was 5), and I know it's not from the TV as it's in colour.

It was years before I knew the name of the bridge — the Internet era, in fact — but as soon as I heard it I knew that was the right one; it fitted a hole I had waiting for it.

The bridge looks pretty spectacular, and is the sort of place I genuinely would like to see and would go out of my way to visit. There's something more, though, that makes it special. As for what that is, <shrug>, all I can say is that, in the same way I knew the name was right when I heard it, I'll know whatever is special about it when I walk it.

(Which, of course, I'll never get to do).

Oh, the reason I mentioned it today was because of yesterday's post. 2,223m in 13 years works out at 171m/year. The bridge over the A12 is far less than 171m long and we've been waiting 4 years for it.

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).