Beijing hikers’ trip, awesome again!

6 Feb

The boys are on break for Chinese New Year, so we planned some short little trips around the city. Beijing hikers were offering an overnight trip to a nearby province about four hours north of Beijing called Hebei.  Here is the link that describes the trip. It was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. The main attraction was Da Shu Hua, a 300-year old local tradition that translates as ‘Beating Trees into Flowers’ and results in molten iron being flung against the city walls in lieu of a fireworks display! It was started by blacksmiths and considered the poor man’s fireworks. They throw molten iron on a wall using a bamboo paddle. It was very dramatic and dangerous looking all at the same time! Everyone really enjoyed it despite the below zero temperatures. Robert has some photos I will have to include later.
Earlier that day we explored the city’s temples, some of which were older and unrestored allowing us to see beautiful original frescos painted over 600-900 years ago. We also warmed up in a tea house for a bit, brr was it cold.
On the second day we did some more walking around the ancient walled city and ate lunch at a local farmer’s house. It was really eye opening to see how people still live in this village. Two room houses, one room containing a family bed built so hot coals can be placed underneath for warm at night, and the other room an all purpose kitchen/dining/family room with tv. The bathroom was one of the most rudimentary we have experienced so far. The boys were amazed and most other people on the trip would not even use it, but instead opted to wait for a gas station toilet. There was a courtyard shared area with a garden plot and some had farm animals.
We also saw the locals perform a dragon dance and Chinese opera. It was hard to tell who was on stage during the Chinese opera, our family or the performers.
Throughout the city there were coal burning chimnea things set up to warm up a bit. And you really had to watch your step and navigate around the food waste and garbage around the sewers drains waiting for pick up or to be washed away. There weren’t many young adults, mostly older men and women and a few children. This way of life isn’t for the weak and most 20-30 year olds seem to move to the city for apartment living. I’m not sure given the choice what I would do. It was a definite eye opener.

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