Rural Areas of Beijing, Beijing
Beijing International Art Camp (BIAC) is situated near the highway to the airport and frankly speaking, it is not very easy to find, even on a taxi.
It's situated inside a village called "Suojia Cun", perpendicular to the street "Laiguangying Dong Lu".
A lot of artists are moving to this new art camp from Dashanzi. The art camp is divided into small streets and each artist is lodged in individual 2 floors house. The basement is usually for the exhibition of their works while they live on the 1st floor. You can freely go into each house to have a look.
Zhou Kou Dian, the site where the fossils and remains of the Peking Man (Homo erectus) was discovered, is located about 48 km or 30 miles southwest of Beijing. The age of the fossils is estimated to be between 500,000 and 300,000 years old. There is an interesting museum about the Peking Man there. The admission fee is 20 yuan and the tour takes about an hour.
The municipality of Beijing is more than just Beijing city. It is very easy and very rewarding to get out of the city, especially if you are a visitor and able to do it during the week. At the weekends, tens of thousands of Beijingers head for the hills, to the west and especially to the north, where the whole economy relies upon this weekly influx of city people.
The Great Wall is in rural Beijing, and in Hebei province nearby, and I have put tips in the Beijing Shi/Huanghuacheng, Miyun and Haizi sections for the Great Wall at Huanghuacheng, Jiankou and Mutianyu areas.
There are the silver pagodas and silver mountain at Haizi, and the great deep valleys north of Hairou and Miyun that lead into a fascinating mountainous area just an hour from the city. You can reach both Hairou and Huangcheng by city bus from Dongzhimen (forget about the train: although the Chifeng line passes Hairou and Miyun, it takes more than two hours to get from Beijing Bei to Hairou!).
It is easy to rent a taxi for half or a fullday.
Remember that once you get off the beaten track around Beijing, no English is spoken and no English will appear on sign-posts: you really will need to make sure our phrasebook has Chinese characters as well.
However, it is worth the effort - just as New York is not the USA and London is not Britain, so Beijing is not China, but you will find China nearby, just an hour away by bus.
Just another impression of Tanzhe temple. These are the tombs of the Buddhist monchs and abbots, who had lived in Tanzhe monastery. These tombs are beautifully located beneath old trees. In former days there had been a forest fo wild mulberries here. Today just one mulberry-tree remains.
Tanzhe Temple origins derive from 3rd century . It is one of the oldest Buddhist temples. Today's buildings are all from Ming and Qing dynasty.
The temple is situated in a lovely surrounding with many old fir trees. An old Gingko-Tree is said to be more than 1000 years old.
It started its history in Eastern Jing Dynasties as Temple of Excellent Blessings.
There is an old saying: “First there was Tanzhe and then there was Youzhou (a name for the Beijing region dating back to the sixth century),”
Today the name of the Temple is "Temple of the Pool and the Wild Mulberry"
Beijing is getting crowded everyday. With approximately 15 million registered residents and another 11 million "residents" withou hukou (ID), and the heat of Olympics 2008 approaching, you will see more and more tourists coming to this magnificent city.
For those who want to get out from the crowd and try something different, there are many other choices around. One being hiking.
You can hire a cab to be shared (300RMB), to the area close to Mu Tian Yu or Simatai but not to climb the Great Wall. Climb the hills and mountain around these places from the bottom. Along the way you can spend the night with the local villagers (farmer) and move on. We paid like 10RMB per head and you will get a place to sleep and dinner with the family. They will be more than happy to have you there.
As you move on, you will get to see more than those standard Great Wall route. Some of the tracks will allow you to see some wild animals and plants.
Make sure you have all your gears for hiking ready.
Try the local grapes. They taste really out of this world! In fact, I could not believe that they really tasted as sweet as the muscat grapes we have in cans from Japan.....they are really THAT sweet! Well, we got the chance to visit a fruit farm and went grape picking....imagine stuffing yourself with grapes!!!! (If you are in Beijing for a while, hire a driver you can trust and go fruit picking in the rural areas. Apparently, there are also peaches, apples and oranges to pick)
If you have a chance, visit the country side. I happened to take a trip to a village. Folks there are very friendly and helpful. Even though I am a chinese, but maybe due to my dressing, I received curious looks everywhere I went.
The trip to the country side can be quite uncomfortable, but, you will find a lot of interesting things, especially for a city boy like myself. Here's my first encounter with a live donkey next to a corn field.