When one of our hiking regulars asked us to help arrange a teambuilding weekend for his office group, we offered our Yu County trip as a possibility. As it's a visit to a very rural area that contains many places of historical significance, it's interesting for people of any culture. And the hiking is not too tough either!
We left Beijing on a Thursday, and drove out into the depths of western Hebei, north-west of Beijing. This far away from big city Beijing – almost all the way to Shanxi Province, actually! – you can get a true taste of countryside Chinese life.
After arriving we took a tour of Nuanquanzhen, an old walled town with temples and heavily fortified castles. Some of the old walls have been repaired to original condition, and the remnants of the rest can still be seen.
One of the highlights of the tour was a lesson in the local tradition of papercutting. Fun!
On the second day of the trip we visited Yuhuang Temple, which sits atop a tall and thick brick wall of the town's north gate. From there we walked through the streets of the town, passing street markets on the way to the south gate, where we found a tall pagoda and another temple.
On the way back to Beijing we stopped off for a short walk in the countryside, walking through farmland and loess scenery to find the White Horse Temple.
Thanks for asking us to help out with the event, Audi Team!
Starting the stroll through the streets of Nuanquanzhen.
Fine woodcarving above the door, with a banner that reads "May all your wishes come true".
A look inside a traditional northern Chinese courtyard.
The team explored the courtyard.
"The castle historical culture exhibition hall".
An intricate ceramic decoration that covers the join between the roof and the wall.
Air-dried tofu, very common in the area. Later on, we'd see it for sale, deep-fried, at street markets.
Inside the castle.
A view from one of the castle balconies.
Time to learn how to create the papercuts.
Looks like fun!
A butterfly, and the template used to create it.
The finished product.
A view of the town from on top of the old walls.
Yuhuang Temple, our first stop on the second day of the trip.
This contraption is some sort of pressure cooker for beans.
Cabbage, the most popular of winter vegetables!
On the way to the White Horse Temple we spotted an old man and his bike. Or was he spotting us?
The ruins of a fort near a small village.
Our short hike took us through small canyons in a loess area.
Pretty colours in the poplar leaves.
We hiked along a dirt road …
… and then below the poplars.
The team gathered at the top of a hill …
… and then hiked on through the farmland.
This machine is used to grind wheat stalks into feed for animals.