Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday Temple Hike

The weather in Beijing has been gorgious all week: blue skies and little pollution.

(Pollution counts for PM2.5 particles were around 60, which is low for here, but not so low if you compare it to these current levels in the U.S.)

To enjoy the weather, last Saturday we went on a hike in the Pinggu area, which is about 30 minutes east of us.

There are lots of beautiful nature areas around Beijing, but finding a good hike can sometimes be a challenge. There are not that many trails that are marked or mapped, and if a trail is actually in my hiking book it is quite possible you can not actually find the right spot (directions and road signage rarely agree), or the trail or park is inexplicably closed.

(This really happened to us: One time we drove for over an hour to find a certain hike around a reservoir, only to discover that the whole area around the lake was closed for construction. I had actually searched a bit online and--while my Chinese reading skills admittedly are extremely poor--I had not found any information on this multi-year construction project.)

In the case of Pinggu, we actually had found the spot before but had run out of time, so we now came back to compete our mission: hike up to the temple at the top.

The temple at the top.
Paul and Carter--neighbor, colleague and friend--actually made there all the way.

The boys and I taking a rest. The hike started with A LOT of stairs going up.

Simon dressed like Anna.

After the stairs, the path levels out and you just have an easy stroll around the mountains. We--women and children--could not go to the temple because the path to the left was too dangerous (or just absent really) to take, so we turned right and curved around the valley. After an hour or so of easy walking the trail went down into the valley, back to the hotel. The guys, meanwhile, ploughed their way through the bushes and made it to the temple.

Thomas dressed like Katrina.

Anna dressed like Anna; Katrina dressed like Katrina.

 Another view of the temple. (From the people who did not actually get there.)

Sometimes the trail (and people) were a bit hard to see.

The parking lot of the hotel where we started the hike. We had a bit of a weird experience in that someone from the hotel (in suit and nice shoes, mind you) followed us all the way on our hike. At first we thought he didn't want us to go through the hotel backyard to get to the trail, but later it seemed more like he was worried about our safety. Or perhaps some weird combination of the two.

Halloween is coming!

Pinggu city in the distance.

Local wildlife.

Thomas' photo smile.

Simon chased a bunch of lizzards to take pictures.

Yet another shot of the temple.

At the end of the hike. The trail puts you right back at the hotel. A few hotel staff are playing badminton during their break.

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