There aren't too many advantages of living on the west side of Beijing (the best shops and eateries are on the east side), but one of them is the proximity to the mountains. Unfortunately, because of the city's infamous smog, they rarely make their presence known; however, when we get a day as gorgeous as yesterday, they beckon, and being in this side of the city means they are only 20 minutes away.
Yesterday afternoon a colleague and I answered the call and headed for the hills around 4:30pm. Cameras in hand, our plan was to wander around the Botanical Gardens. About halfway out there, we both looked at each other, and said (almost in unison) "uh-oh….the park closed at 4!!" All Beijing parks close at 4 this time of year. We know that, but just weren't paying attention to the time when we left.
We contemplated other options:
Supper on the veranda at Sculpting in Time? We weren't hungry enough.
Tell the taxi driver to turn around and take us back to the office? The weather was too nice, and besides, that would mean defeat.
We decided to have him drop us off at the entrance to a valley just north of the Fragrant Hills Park. We would wander through the village, and see if we could find our way onto a road that we know from studying maps runs up the side of the mountain.
It was delightful. Here we were, just 20 minutes away from our office (and nearby homes), walking through a quiet village and enjoying gorgeous scenery.
Yes, folks, this too is Beijing.
In a parking lot just outside the village (yes, it is a tourist area), we spotted this interesting scene — one in which nothing makes sense and everything makes sense all at the same time. I think this would be a great photo to use in a composition or creative writing class.
Through the trees, we spotted this! It's part of the Biyun Temple Complex, which dates back to the early 1300's.
I stopped to take a photo of the couplets on this doorway, because I could actually all the characters AND understand the meaning of the couplets (not a given, mind you). Just as I was about to snap the photo, this cat appeared to pose.
The next time the skies clear, we're heading back out to walk the road to the top of the mountain!