Fall Colors at Fragrant Hills in Beijing
On Sunday, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, and Sabrina and I decided to postpone our tour through the Hutongs for two reasons: First, we could do that on a rainy day as well, and second, her friend, a German-speaking tour guide invited us to go to Fragrant Hills. Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan Gongyuan) is North West of Beijing, a few miles behind the Summer Palace. The end of October is the best time to go there, because of the Indian summer. The area is truly beautiful and the colors of the forest were just amazing.
We went to a nice restaurant and since we had Chinese company, the food we ordered was outstanding. We even got some typical Sichuan food with lots of hua jiao, a spice I hated before, but learned to love in Chengdu. Sabrina’s friend showed us some interesting temple ruins and even a former residence of Chairman Mao, who had lived there for a couple of months. As any beautiful place in China on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the place was swarmed with tourists. Luckily Yuke, our guide managed to find some paths with less people and we had a great time there. I am sure that Fragrant Hills is very beautiful during all seasons, but the colors of the leaves and the bright blue sky were just breath taking.
And guess what, I had a little photo shooting there as well. I sat down on a little stone and Sabrina took some nice pictures of me. Some of you know that I don’t like to have pictures taken with me in them, so why did I agree on a photo shooting? Well, one of my colleagues came up to me and told me that Winglong usually gives a nice calendar to its customers as a present. Last year the main motives were beaches from all over the world and this year, they want to put pictures of Winglong employees in the calendar. Then my colleague got really nervous and after a few hms, uhms, and ahms, she asked me if I would like to be on one of the pages. I really appreciate this gesture and I feel quite honored that they want a picture of me in their calendar, so I had to grasp the nettle and get them some nice pictures. It’s not Playboy, but hey, everybody starts small, right? I really hope that I will get one of these calendars; this would be a great souvenir to remember my time in Beijing.
After a great afternoon at Fragrant Hills, Yuke had to pick up one of his clients from the train station. He was a 19-year-old German, who just spent the past two months in a famous Shaolin monastery to practice Kung Fu. We took him out for dinner and he shared some interesting stories about his experiences. The training was really hard, and the conditions were even harder, but what experience!!! Even though I am not very interested in martial arts, it was very interesting to hear, what little monks, some of them are only four years old, have to put up with and go through to become a Shaolin monk. To hot water, grueling training 3 times a day, and then they even had to fight for a bowl of rice, because sometimes they did not have enough food. Unfortunately, he left that night, so I did not have the chance to see his pictures. There are some fascinating people in this world with some very interesting stories. You never know when you meet them, but when you do: Listen and enjoy!!!
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