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Escape the Concrete Jungle at Shi Du Posted by on Aug 21, 2013 in architecture and landscaping, Beer, Culture, Drinking, environment, food, Leisure, sightseeing, travel

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.”

Nothing but rivers and mountains!

Nothing but rivers and mountains!

You're bound to spot a rainbow or two out at Shidu.

You’re bound to spot a rainbow or two out at Shi Du.

You'd better brush up on your 汉字 if you want to understand this map.

You’d better brush up on your 汉字 if you want to understand this map.

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.

After a long day, kick back at your guesthouse (which come as cheap as 50 RMB/night for 4 people!)

After a long day, kick back at your guesthouse (which come as cheap as 50 RMB/night for 4 people!)

Group picture with new friends that we finished many a beer with.

Group picture with new friends that we finished many a beer with.

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:

Just floating along the lazy river...

Just floating along the lazy river…

The bungee tower looming high over the river.

The bungee tower looming high over the river.

I'm ready to take the leap!

I’m ready to take the leap!

And now I'm falling helplessly from 55 meters.

And now I’m falling helplessly from 55 meters.

Celebrating with our "Braver Certificates."

Celebrating with our “Braver Certificates.”

Talk about a scenic pick-up game!

Talk about a scenic pick-up game!

And what an intense game it is - Da Kuai coming in big with the block!

And what an intense game it is – Da Kuai coming in big with the block!

Setting off on a hike at Qi Du (the 7th Crossing).

Setting off on a hike at Qi Du (the 7th Crossing).

You can stop to chill at plenty of waterfalls along the way.

You can stop to chill at plenty of waterfalls along the way.

Classic Chinglish sign.

Classic Chinglish sign.

The Bat Mountain - can you see it?

The Bat Mountain – can you see it?

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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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


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