I had to take a break from working and see something of China before I leave in ten days time – and so we headed to the Fragrant Hills to the north-west of Beijing today. We caught the 696 bus just outside the university – squeezing onto an already overcrowded vehicle – and slowly, slowly made it eventually to the East Gate of Xiangshan after about 90 minutes. Traveling on the buses is definitely an adventure in itself – and hanging on to the rails as the vehicle stops and starts meant we were exhausted before we arrived!
The gardens were very crowded, and there were many people also walking up to the top! It took us about an hour to reach the summit, and we ate our sandwiches in a small pagoda just to the north with magnificent views. On the way back down, though, we managed to find a longer route around the south-western wall which was almost deserted! The Hills are definitely not somewhere that most European’s find their way to – no-one else from Europe was on the buses, and we only saw one other European all day!
Hopefully the pictures below capture something of the rugged beauty of the Hills.