Ni hao, everyone, hello from China! We have spent a couple of lovely months in Tianjin, a dynamic city about an hour and a half away from Beijing. Our host family’s mom and dad work at an international school in China. She’s the elementary librarian and he heads the PE department. We spent our time living the expat life and enjoying family life.
Our very first weekend we went camping. Our host family, the Fitzgeralds, love the outdoors and we went camping twice during our stay. The first trip was to Yunmengshan.
This is a beautiful forest in the mountains north of Beijing. There are quiet mountain paths and lots and lots of trees and plenty of wonderful fresh air. (Although we can’t complain of the city air. October is the best month for air quality in Tianjin and we had many beautiful clear days. Still, there’s no beating fresh mountain air.) Camping was a lot of fun, although a bit of work, especially for people our size.
After setting up camp, we went exploring. The stream that ran past our camping site provided endless opportunities for splashing and wading. We didn’t get too wet, which was a good thing, because there was definitely a chill in the air in the shadows of the forest. Little Paulo, of course, had to swing from the trees like Tarzan and he kept looking at the water as if to calculate the size of the white water raft he’d need.
Going back to the city was good. We were happy to spend time with our librarian friend at her school. So many eager students come into the library every day. Libraries are wonderful!
During our month in the city, we did the usual tourist stuff. We went to Ancient Culture Street in Tianjin, among other places. This is a market that has grown around a Buddhist temple. About 5 years ago, the whole market was torn down and refurbished to give market vendors modern facilities, but the ancient character was kept. The market itself is very much a tourist site, with people come from all over the countryside surrounding Tianjin to visit. The temple was very busy, with many people lighting incense at the different altars.
The best part of our trip, though, was camping at the foot of the Great Wall of China. The first week of October is a national holiday in China, as the country celebrates its founding anniversary. We took advantage of the holiday to go for a long weekend with 6 families and camp at Jingshanlin.
The Great Wall was built by China’s first emperor to protect China from the Mongols in the north. The aim of the emperor was to have a wall stretching from Lop Lake in the west to Shanghaiguan in the east. It was to be 6 horses wide at the top and 8 horses wide at the bottom (or something like that. We read a book about it in the school library.)
There were to be watchtowers every 100 meters. The emperor sent a million people to build it. Many died and are buried in the wall. The conditions must have been brutal. It took 10 years to build, but subsequent emperors built different parts of it. The part we were on, Jingshanlin, was built during the Ming dynasty, only 500 years ago.
Click here for more photos of the Great Wall from our host.
We’ve had a great time in China and although we’re sad to go, we’re eager to continue with our adventures. We wish you all great happiness and good fortune.
Thank you fitziane for this lovely report! Now we wonder where the little ones will show up next…