Sunday, 6 November 2011

A little country getaway

I love the city but sometimes you do need to escape and see that there is a blue sky beyound the smog that inevitably hovers over Chinese cities. National Day was approaching and naturally the one day holiday is transformed into a week off for most people. So a group of us decided to head to the countryside, about a two hour train ride from Tianjin (and for only 80p one way you cannot fault the price). Upon our arrival in Jixian, we were pounced on by hotel owners, taxi drivers and tour operators, you name it! But once we got through the rabble it all calmed down and we saw a blue sky for the first time in a little while.
Drum Tower in the centre of Jixian (complete with blue sky)
Jake and I decided to stay in the town for a couple of nights before we met the rest ofthe group. In retrospect this was a slight mistake. The hotel was interesting to say the least. The walls were paper thin which does not go well with the tendency for Chinese people to shout. In China I do find it hard to work out whether people are angry or just speaking loudly as they do generally speak at a higher volume than us. Two policemen also came bursting into our room one day which was rather intimidating. They then took Jake away which worried me somewhat. Turns out they just needed to register our details, which obviously requires two policemen.

We visited a lovely temple whilst staying in the town. The Dule temple () is more than 1000 years old and contains the statue of Avalokitesvara with the head of eleven small Budhas on tob. It is one of the largest clay statues in ancient China. Jake wandered in to this Buddhist temple and his first remark was “Jesus”….he did apologise a minute later though! It was deserted when we visited and it was so lovely to escape the constant attention that seemed to follow us everywhere.
The Dule Temple
The ever happy Buddha
We met the others at Jixian station (where I visited the second worst toilet in my life) and we all travelled to a farmhouse near Mount Panshan. Our first meal included a whole chicken (head and feet). The breakfast was great though and came complete with tasty omelette. It is surprising the comfort you get from food that you actually recognise as it is a common occurrence not to really know what you’re eating here.

Chowing down in the chopstick pros!
We decided to climb Mount Pan Shan the next day. We were the only westerners on the whole mountain…I think it must be a very Chinesey tourist spot. For anyone making the epic climb, it is their goal to reach the pagoda at the top. With every new section we climbed I hated that pagoda more and more as it never appeared to be getting any closer. But we kept going and reached the top 5 hours later. The views from the top were wonderful. Then we realised we had to get back down again! We had to take the cable car down the mountain…it was horrible! The glass at the front of our car was smashed and it rocked repeatedly from side to side with the wind..but we made it down in one piece!
In good spirits, half way up the mountain

The close!
It was at Mount Pan Shan that we came across this interestingly dressed young man...
Lost in translation?
We also visited another section of the Great Wall, so more climbing. It was a newly refurbished section and the views were amazing! When we walked along the wall and came to the old part, I thought I may slip and die on a few occasions but it was all worth it and my legs were well and truly toned by the end!
Great Wall fun

We had a bit of time in the town before we left, so Jake and I would rock up and play cards in different places, ice cream in hand. Every time we attracted a group of people who were intrigued as to our existence as well as the card game we were playing (but if you have ever played Shit Head, you will know that it is impossible to guess the rules….the Chinese tried nonetheless!). I had my photo taken a number of times and one man let me listen to Lady GaGa on his mp3 player. Jixian is a funny little place! 

No comments:

Post a Comment