I was invited to go to the Fragrant Hills a weekend of two back. This is an area on the outskirts of Beijing. There is a new tram which goes there (it opened last year, or the year before I think), but I haven’t been there before. I’ve thought about it, several times, but it has always been too busy or the weather hasn’t been right. The same guy who took me to the Wild Wall, asked if I wanted to go. Since I am leaving soon, I figured why not. He contacted me on the Saturday evening and asked what time I wanted to leave? 6 am? 6:30 am? 7am? (I didn’t know why we had to go so early). I suggested 7am, and it was settled.
I didn’t know whether I should eat breakfast beforehand or not, but I did and in hindsight, I’m pleased I did. I met them near my flat and we drove to the hills. It took about half an hour to get there, much closer (and, I was told, a lot safer) than the wall. The weather was great – clear skies, sunshine, no pollution. And a slight breeze. When we arrived at the base, at about 7:30, there were already people about climbing up.
There are stairs up to the peak and some handrails, but it isn’t exactly easy. It took time and by the time we reached the top, about 9am, I was hot and sweaty. We had an ice lolly, and took various pictures at the top.
At about 9:30, I thought we would be going down and back at the car pretty early, but in fact we didn’t begin to make our way down until about 10am. We deviated from the set path and followed a more worn, less well-trodden one (not necessarily my choice). It was a little rough going in places but mostly okay and wasn’t as bad as scrambling over rocks in the dark or twilight, like we had done at the wall.
When we arrived at the bottom, it was about 12 noon or a little later. There is a hotel at the base – quite a posh one, apparently designed by the same guy who designed the Louvre triangle – and we stopped there to have a buffet lunch.
We made it back mid-afternoon. It was a pleasant enough trip overall, and nice to visit it before I leave. The view was pretty impressive too!