Beijing’s Wonderful Silver Ingot Bridge
by Pang Mengjie
(Translated by Michael Imhoff Arsenault)
Today’s galivanting brings us to Beijing, where we standing on a small, ten meter wide bridge which takes but four to five hops to step across. The flowing water below merges with the lake and it hangs in a manner that makes it look short but stretches quite high. Its dimension are roughly 10 to 12 meters long, 7 meters wide and 8 meters in height. The shape gives us the impression that small boats must sink lower to move safely from one side to the next, to maneuver the golden number chosen to produce its shape. From the top of the arch we are given a spectacular panoramic view of the HaiGuan Mountain. It served as the entrance to the palace of the emperor’s local regent during the Qing Dynasty. Refurbished and maintained in 1984, as well as in 2011, the bridge lives on with a newly rejuvenated essence. Built with rough, bluestone material, this cleverly designed, single-arched bridge, looking quite like a shoe-shaped silver ingot, stands timelessly watching the lake water flow towards the sea.
Located between the lake and this bridge, we find the Xicheng District, which is part of Shichahai and the wide expanse of the lake. The bridge is auspiciously named the YinDing Qiao, which translates nicely to English as the Silver Ingot Bridge. Standing on it, we catch a bird’s eye view of the lake, XiShan (Western Hills) reflecting its foliage of weeping willows and the vibrant purple and pink hues of the lotus flowers randomly positioned on the lakeside. In the far away backdrop we can see Beijing, but the beauty of the local natural geography overshadows the city center. The hustle and bustle, traffic and often cited dust of the city, makes the trip even more pleasurable.
(Note: it was refurbished in 2010 and now stands as a 500 year old bridge)
Oddly enough not many people know of a Beijing city center lookout where we can see the Silver Ingot Bridge, but everyone knows that the city can be seen from the countryside. The reason confounds many, since the elevation of both places is roughly similar. The fact of the matter is that the openness of the lake offers a very broad view on the lake with a backdrop on the city. Bring your iPhone 5’s and figure out how to use the panoramic setting on the default camera! Weather permitting, the evening might present some interesting photography with a mist of various hues, a twilight skyline and welcoming and friendly locals who are eager to help you take group photos.
Note: This piece was a real joy to translate, since I visited Beijing in the year 2000.