December 20, 2009

The Fragrant Hills

Xiangshan or "Fragrant Hills" is a mountainside park located in the northern fringes of city of Beijing. The most popular time to visit is during autumn, when the hills are ablaze with the red and orange leaves that have gently fallen from the trees. I went in winter. Although there is a cable car that can be taken to the peak of the highest hill, I chose to take the more scenic route. The strenuous hike to the top was completed by both young and old. I passed musicians, singers, temples, and villas along the way.

As the only visible non-native that day making the 600 meter climb, the Chinese eagerly pointed at me and said "foreigner" in their local tongue. I was accompanied by a Chinese girl who had previously worked in the same company as I in India, so she could translate the remarks of the fellow hikers. To keep me energized, the girl continuously plied me with chocolate, biscuits, and duck tongues. I was nonetheless famished once we reached the top, so I purchased some preserved dog meat and chowed it down. Revitalized, the way back down was swift and painless.


"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
- Anne Dudley Bradstreet