Escape the Concrete Jungle at Shi Du Posted by sasha on Aug 21, 2013 in Culture
From the maze of skyscrapers and hazy clouds of pollution that are omnipresent in Beijing city, one merely needs to hop on a public bus (公共汽车 – gōng gòng qì chē) – number 917 to be exact – and ride out of the city 100 km to the southwest to find stunning landscapes and a weekend full of non-stop fun. Welcome to Shi Du (十渡 – shí dù). This scenic spot literally translates as “Ten Crossings”; this is because the entire area is a series of crossings along the Juma River (拒马河 – jù mǎ hé), with each crossing offering visitors something fun to do. Although the name indicates only ten crossings of the river, you can actually venture as far out as 23 Du and even beyond… just make sure you hire a local driver, as it is beyond reach of the bus and way too far to walk. What really makes Shi Du special is its rare karst rock (岩溶 – yán róng) formations, which is why it’s often dubbed the “Guilin of the North.”
While a day trip (一日游 – yí rì yóu) here is certainly doable from Beijing, you’d be selling the area short if you tried to cram it all into one day. Plus, you’d wear yourself out, and end up spending 4-5 hours sitting on a bus. Instead, it’s best to head out early on Saturday morning, rent a room in a local guesthouse, squeeze in an afternoon of rafting (漂流 – piāo liú), followed by a round of bungee jumping (蹦极 – bèng jí). Those less inclined to hurl their bodies toward the water from 55 meters high can opt for carnival games and bamboo rafting while watching their friends risk life and limb.
Back at your guesthouse, be sure to indulge in some fresh grilled fish (烤鱼 – kǎo yú). You’ll want some food in your stomach for all of that beer you’ll be drinking with your new friends that you’re sure to meet in one of the many local beer gardens (啤酒花园 – pí jiǔ huā yuán). Actually, they’re more like beer parking lots, but garden just sounds better.
The next day, wake up early, grab a snack and some huge bottles of water, and head out to hike up one of the many incredible mountains. Alternatively, if your hangover is just too much to bear, you can always take the cable car (缆车 – lǎn chē) up and then walk down. As a nature buff who somehow found himself stuck in the concrete jungle of Beijing, Shi Du has proven to be a godsend for me, and I’ve already made three trips out there, with plans to return as soon as my work schedule allows. There’s plenty more to do out at Shi Du, and this website is a great go-to guide for a basic rundown of the area. In the meantime, enjoy some of my favorite pictures from my various trips out to Beijing’s most scenic area:
If the pictures just aren’t enough, and you’re just dying for more Shi Du, well… you’re in luck! Here’s a video I put together a while back showcasing some of the highlights of my second trip out there.
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