Over the long weekend for Labour Day
(note the extra "u", since we get two extra days, not just one like regular Labor Day
), we got the chance to go out to the Beijing suburbs for some outdoor activities in Longqing Gorge
. It's a very nice scenic area, and of course everything is adapted for the local Chinese tourist market, meaning it's developed and touristy, rather than very rugged.
After taking a powerboat for a 20 minute cruise down the river, you can rent row boats and go exploring in some of the narrower parts of the gorge. The water looked to be pretty deep. How deep remains to be seen. The estimates I got from the workers ranged from 30 meters to 100 meters, and I'm sure it's much closer to the low end of that range. One thing's for sure, the water was as cold as glacial runoff. We rented a row boat, but although I had my Speedo on under my cargo pants, and a pair of Swedish goggles in my bag, I couldn't justify jumping into an ice cold river. Maybe in the middle of July or August it would be better.
The rowboats come with oars made from a thick dowel bolted to three foot board. (Enlarge the photo below for a close look.)
They had some really great lamb kebabs at the scenic area, better than I've had anywhere else in China or elsewhere. It's a shame it's so far away from where I'm living. I stayed away from this place below with the "hot-drink beer". I'll take my beer frosty cold, thank you.
Here's a photo of a pit-stop our bus took just a few clicks away from the gorge. Rumor has it that the Beijing city goverment tried to abate the Spring sand storm problem by planting trees out on the northern and western borders of the city. The thing is, those same trees shed a ton of puff balls. You can get a better sense of how many of them there are if you enlarge the photo.
A sneaked a photo of this piece of paper sitting behind our crotchety bus driver. I've blurred out the surnames to protect the accused. Apparently the bus driver was also pulling duty taking snot-nosed kids from the Beijing international schools on field trips.
Check out the report. It looks like Estella's been throwing shit out the window and not respecting authority. Apparently she has a history of throwing shit out the window. I wonder if Estella had to wear the dunce cap and sit in the corner, or if having rich parents that pay international school tuition
exempted her from punishment.
I liked our bus driver. After the first potty stop to Longqing, before he got back to driving, he craned his neck around the seat and gave a speech in Beijing-inflected Chinese to the whole bus. It went something like this:
"Make sure you clean up all your garbage. Normally, there's no eating or drinking allowed on this bus, but I'm fine with it as long as you clean up after yourselves. Don't leave any rubbish on board when you get off.
"It would be like if I came to your house during Chinese New Year and threw a bunch of rubbish on the floor. You wouldn't like that, would you? So let's make sure to take care of our garbage."
Then he turned back to the steering wheel and got back to driving. Great speech. It turned out to be the cleanest, least garbage free bus I've seen in China so far.