“There is beauty in simplicity” -anon
OH MY GOSH GUYS.
I am so bloated. We just went hiking with my brother’s friend
WHO IS EXTREMELY OBNOXIOUS AND ANNOYING and ate at a local restaurant with the best Chinese pancakes. Ever. I literally wrote an article about and end to binge eating and here I am, drowning in guilt after stuffing myself like some starved maniac.
Anyway, since the main focus of this blog was to show you around China, I thought I’d take some photos and record today’s trip, kinda like a diary entry.
China is often known as some polluted factory with red lanterns and fortune cookies. And chow mein or whatever you guys call it (psst it’s chao mien 炒面). I’m here to show you what it really is like though, and for families who are planning to visit Beijing, this is a great half day activity filled with nature and Chinese culture. So hop in, and lets go hiking 🙂
China’s food may be great, but the GPS we used was extremely misleading. DO NOT. Repeat. DO NOT. Use the Tencent GPS app. Consider yourself warned.
The GPS led us down a rural marketplace and near a construction site, and even though it was pretty dangerous navigating down those narrow lanes, I got to take this cool photo, so I guess everything’s cool 🙂
First minute into the trail and everything was STUNNING. MY GOSH. The sky was blue, streams clean, and honestly, I couldn’t believe I was in China. Yes, China is beautiful, but I had no idea it would be so— clean?
(p.s. click on that first picture. the trail’s name is pretty weird huh? if you ever visit China, watch out for those wacky signs. this one’s considered normal.)
I have to say, the trail was nice at the start, until the parents let my brother and his friend (yep I was alone without anyone. I know!!) pick the trail. They led us through tons of prickly brambly bushes, but I managed to capture a really nice photo 🙂
Here’s a photo of my brother and his friend, no doubt plotting on some evil trick to play on me. Jokes. But they did throw prickly needle things at me. That photo on the right’s a GIANT GRASSHOPPER I caught on the way. Which brings me back to the memory of throwing a grasshopper onto my friend which resulted in an EAR SPLITTING SCREAM. But that’s another story 🙂
Today’s weather was slightly hot, and pretty sunny, so we didn’t stay as long as we planned to. There were a few trials available, and after we left the dead end (took us 30 minutes), we spent 1 1/2 hours hiking through the other trails. Compared to places such as Yosemite, it was relatively easy, but the scenery today was PERFECT.
Since today was surprisingly hot, we cooled off at a nearby market, and a sunflower farm. Local markets are extremely common throughout the countryside of mainland China, with a wide variety of toys, fruits, nuts, and vegetables– regardless of the location.
We stopped by some chestnuts, which are definitely in season during autumn, and some fruits. You should see how they cook it, hopefully I’ll be able to get some photos next time. It’s roasted and churned in this big black wok, and shoveled into a small paper bag and served as takeout 🙂
Someone was selling some cricket like insect next to the stall, so I thought I’d document that as well. I practically begged for one of these— (even Mulan had one!) but obviously my dad said no. If you’re reading this and planning to visit China, be prepared to see markets with pigs, chicken, puppies (NO. WE’RE NOT GOING TO EAT THEM), and other cool stuff along the way. .
That was pretty much it for the hiking. We went on a quick half hour drive to a local area with quite a few family operated, local restaurants aka“农家院 (nong jia yuan)” serving Hebei style food— something most of you probably never seen before. Although it looks less appealing compared to Panda Express, it is TEN TIMES BETTER, and does NOT consist of Japanese food.
The orangey chunks you see are deep fried sweet potato (拔丝地瓜 ba si di gua) drenched in melted sugar. For any family planning to visit Beijing, THIS IS A MUST TRY. Kids will love this sticky sweet traditional Hebei dish. My brother devoured half a plate just by himself!
The pancakes top right corner are called cong you bing 葱油饼— my second favorite main course in these local restaurants. It’s a savory unleavened pancake with a dash of chopped up scallion, made of dough. The texture is similar to Indian naan, but thicker, with more layers. Pizza is actually inspired by scallion pancakes, brought to Italy by Marco Polo!
There wer so many other dishes that I loved, but everyone ate it all 😂. Spare ribs, grilled fish, and lamb skewers are REALLY GOOD. Remember to order the cabbage toufu soup to wash all that flavor down. It’s fresh, light, taste is shockingly one of my go to sides when visiting the countryside.
Be aware that the portions in these local restaurants are pretty big. We usually consult the waiter/waitress if the amount we order is enough/too much for a family 🙂
When people think of China, they think of the Great Wall. The Great Wall may be large and symbolic, but as an attraction? Completely overrated. It’s often the small, underrated, undiscovered places that truly stays with you forever. I’ll always remember that faint autumn breeze, the flowing rivers, and of course— the strong aroma of Hebei dishes wafting through the windows of the family restaurants.