During the National week holiday we went on a two day camping trip. We set off from Shijingshan at 8am and met the trip organisers Jianguomen subway stop. We were given big rucksacks with tents, water, food and other supplies to carry, we already had our own supplies which consisted of mainly sweets, crisps and alcohol. Setting off on the bus we soon found ourselves driving past Shijingshan, two hours later, so already we had made a full circle and we hadn’t even started hiking yet. After a windy drive through the mountains of North West Beijing we stop for a quick toilet break. I have seen many bad toilets throughout my travels in China and Asia, but the toilets here found their way into the top three of most disgusting toilets ever!! Alas after recovering from the smell we climbed back on the bus and were soon trudging up high mountain roads. The views were wonderful, after being in the city for so long it was such an escape to be completely surrounded by trees,
mountains and clean, fresh, breathable air. Driving through an old, local village we stopped at the Major'ss house for a light lunch. Used to eating typical Beijing style food we were happy to eat some new and quite interesting dishes. As always the food kept on coming and we found ourselves very full. The Major's house had a courtyard in the middle and was structured in the old style of Chinese houses, even if there was a rather large, strange fake photograph of two Western children hanging on the wall. Back in the van for about twenty minutes we suddenly stopped on a sharp bend and were told to get our bags organised as we were going to start hiking. Setting off into the wilderness felt great, we were all in high spirits and at this early stage we had good hopes for what lay before us.
We walked along the old part of the Great wall that was crumbling into the ground but still maintained its shape and grandeur that it once had hundreds of years ago. The mountains were a vast aray of green, red, orange, yellow and purple, the first signs of Autumn approaching. We hiked higher and higher, getting further away from the hussle and craziness of city life. The air was cool, but the sun was shining as we were attacked by branches, scrambled up mud paths, ate chocolate biscuits and got further into the mountains. As we came over the top of the hill we were stunned to see the Wall, there it was staight ahead, whiving over the tops of the mountains like a giant, stone snake. It was breathtaking. To think that men and women actually built this wall with their bare hands, risking their lives to protect their country. We trekked through trees and almost got lost before we found ourselves standing on the wall. There wasn't another human being for miles, we couldn't see any buildings, only vast stretches of monutains and wall.
We set down our bags, took some photos and waited to be told where to next. Thinking we still needed to find a place to camp we prepared to walk further, only to discover that we were camping right here, on the wall, with no barriers on either side, a fierce wind blowing and thr thought that in one hour its going to be dark and I may just end up falling off the wall. So we did as we were told and set up camp, quite a challenge to pitch a tent on stone. Yet we huddled the tents together and prayed they wouldn't be blown off the wall as we tried to find a safe place to relieve ourselves as the sun began to set.
Soon the BBQ was ready and food was being served. Plates of chicken, bread, cheddar cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, hot mushrooms and avacado were being laid before us, our mouths watering! We munched on everything whilst sharing wine and then vodka, to warm the insides of course! It was a friends birthday so we had cake and more vodka and set balloons off the Wall. We stayed together, a little scared to wander too far incase we hit the edge and took a tumble! It got colder and colder but we laughed and chatted about everything and nothing. We shared gummy sweets, cookies, crisps and vodka to keep warm, we played Never Have I Ever, which was both far too revealing but hilarious. Soon the cold was creeping into our bones and we retreated into the tents. The night was windy, uncomfortable and bloody freezing. I swear at times I thought we had rolled off the Wall, or that the wind was going to lift us off the Wall all together. But we survived and as the sun came up over the mountains the view was astonishing. A sleepless night had been paid off by waking up on the Great Wall of China (still in one piece).
Breakfast was delightful, after almost nine months I finally had an avacado and bacon sandwich, and standing eating it on the Wall made it taste a million times better! We packed up and set off along the wall. We had all been to the more tourist points of the Wall, were the path has been refurbished and is much safer to walk upon. Out in the wilderness the Wall was left to the force of Mother Nature and it was uneven, wobbly, unsafe and extremely dangerous....what more could you ask for?
We took our time, there were a few slips, a few panics, a lot of fear but we crawled, sat and stumbled down the wall and all made it in one piece...I think! It was a beautiful autumn day and although we were all tired and a little sore, we ventured down the wall not wanting the trip to end. Back on the bus I realised this was one of the view things we had done in China that was really authentic and real. Too many times we have been to temples, parks, and found it ruined in some way by tourism. Out in the mountains, on the part of the Great Wall that many people don't ever get to see, I realised that China is beautiful and old and almost like home....you just have to escape from the tourist traps!
Badachu Park is in the wild west of Beijing. From were we live at Bajiao Subway stop we can take the 598 bus the whole way there. We have been there twice since moving to Beijing, the first was part of a team building exercise with school and the second was just to get out of the city. Badachu is still being redeveloped, temples are being built or restored and the pathways are still being formed. Yet once you get past the diggers and food stalls you trek up a few hundred steps to get to the top. The view of west Beijing is great, we can see our flats, were we shop, were we eat and the road we take to work. On a really clear day I'm sure you can see most of Beijing, but clear days are few and far between. On the way down you can take the mountain path, a little more exciting and rewarding, especially if like me you grew up surrounded by parks and mountains. I'm not a fan of bugs, of any kind and was terrified by the huge grasshoppers that kept jumping across the path, Jordan found it hilarious as I ran through the branches whimpering to myself. We made it out without being eaten by giant grasshoppers, however I, as per usual, got several mosquito bites! There is a slide that you can take down the mountain, which is pretty exciting. You can buy wooden sticks from a little old man at the top, which you use to hit yourself with....it's not as crazy as it sounds! There is horse riding and no doubt other activities hidden within the park to keep you happy for a whole day. Badachu Park isn't a place visited by many tourists but if you live in Shijingshan it's a great place to head to for a good walk and some bug viewing!
We live at the end of line one, in the wild west of Beijing. Unfortunately there is not a lot to do! We have a great flat and a good circle of friends, but the longing for a good pint at the end of a long week does not exist. Shijingshan, although it is part of Beijing is far removed from the downtown area that most tourists and foreigners know and possibly love. Don't get me wrong there are still shops and malls but western food is hard to
find and well if you want a night out then you are in trouble. There are a few bars but the alcohol always seems a little off taste, and the beer gives you one hell of a hangover and well they go to bed early down here! However we are near the mountains and on a clear day they look very impressive, especially when the sun sets. There is also an international sculpture park, a grave yard, an
amusement park which never seems to be open and well recently they have been planting lots of flowers around the lamp posts! There is also the old abandon steel works, plenty of morning markets, hundreds of chinese restaurants and of course several McDonalds. It is cheaper than living in central Beijing but still
just as busy and crazy! And on days when the sun shines and the sky is blue it is not all that bad!