"Silver pagodas, silver mountains" Haizi by mke1963
Haizi Travel Guide: 3 reviews and 5 photos
Haizi village lies on a quiet road, the S213, which runs north from the large village of Xia Zhuang north of Beijing. It is a little known area of quiet valleys and wooded hills, with the Silver Mountain peak visible for al around. The huge boulders of this metamorphic mountain stand out for miles around. In the sunshine, the shimmering smooth slabs of rock really do look like silver. Unfortunately, Haizi and Xia Shuang are stil in the 'smog zone' of Beijing, and clear skies are common only after rain or when there are strong winds.
While there are many valleys pushing into the mountains north of Beijing, this is one of the quietest - perhaps surprising given its close proximity to Huanghuacheng, the current "in" wall-visiting hordes. Perhaps the reason is that the Great Wall is *not* here, leaving the ranges and mountains unspoiled, unlittered and perfect for walking.
Another reason for the solitude is that unlike most other valleys, the river does not flow much except after heavy rainfall, and without a stream there are no restaurants and cafes lining the road up the valley.
In fact, because of this water shortage, there are few villages, and because it is just too far for travelling in to Beijing every day, there is little modern development in the villages. There is money here, from the hard, back-breaking farming in the side valleys: haws, chestnuts, walnuts, peaches, apples, pears and almonds from the trees, with pumpkin, lettuce, and corn in the fields. The money has brought prudent affluence to the villages, yet these rural people prefer to use the older style of house-building, so the villages have been nicely preserved without stagnating.
Traditional architecture can be seen al along the valley, and there is evidence of older houses being restored. It is such a shame, though, that the people are still content to tip their rubbish and rubble into the river bed.
Getting to this area is not easy. It is not far, but it is away from the main through roads and signposting is in Chinese script only.
Take Jingshun Lu north until the 6th ring road. Turn left onto the road that runs parallel to the highway and continue until you come to a big roundabout, turning right towards Xia Zhuang. This road heads due north, passing under a railway line alongside a huge dry river bed. Keep driving north through villages until you come to the Silver Pagoda Mountain Park (signposted in Chinese but with photographs of the pagodas on the huge board). There is a bright pink restaurant set back from the road on the left at the junction. Haizi village is another 2km further on, on the left.
I don't know of any area so close to Beijing where you can really get a feel for rural China as this valley.
- Pros:Peace and quiet, great hill-walking
- Cons:Not much litter, but any is too much!
- In a nutshell:A great get-away from Beijing
[See the entry on the Silver Pagodas for more information] It is possible - desirable even - to walk right up to the... more travel advice
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