We visited Yu County during Lantern Festival to see the action amongst the lanes and streets of the old towns and villages, including the dashuhua performance.
The main places we visited were Yuxian, Nuanquanzhen, and Jimingyi, but we also did a little hike between tiny villages on the nearby loess plateau.
The Temple of the City God-the oldest temple in the town.
We started our walking tour of Yuxian from the temple.
A shot of the main gate of the temple, with the authentic Drum and Bell towers still standing each side.
Delicate design in the wooden architecture.
In front of the temple.
A photo with some local kids.
The Temple of the City God is part of the old city walls of Yuxian.
On the walls.
The words on the board mean 'stand higher, see more', meaning people should make the effort to make their dreams come true.
We walked through Yuxian's old town, heading for the Drum and Bell Tower.
Another shot with local friends, in front of the big arch.
The other side of the Drum and Bell Tower.
Annansi Pagoda, built in 918AD, with a height of 32 metres.
There was a camel by the pagoda … curious!
Also by the pagoda were craft shops selling papercut artwork. We picked up a book with the 12 Chinese zodiac signs.
A big gate in Nuanquan Town.
A decorated gate, with the sign reading 'good weather for the crops'.
On the walls of the Xigu Castle, the highest point of Nuanquan Town.
Part of the old rammed earth walls of Nuanquan Town.
Walking down from the temple.
Photo time with a performer in one of the parades.
Lanterns everywhere, for Lantern Festival.
The gates to the Temple of Hell, with a history of about 600 years.
More photos with local friends.
And another! We were popular!
A censer in the courtyard of the Temple of Hell.
Ready for the dashuhua performance.
The show has begun.
Flying sparks of molten iron.
We took a group shot with one of the fellows who was throwing the molten iron.
After the show we went to dinner.
After dinner we took a short walk to the town square.
The next day we went to visit a remote countryside village.
Many of the villages here were protected by earthen walls. In the Yuxian area there are around 200 villages like this.
Walking down into a gully.
We set off on an easy walk to the next village.
Hiking in the fields around the village.
The youngest hiker in the group.
Dry and desolate loess plateau.
It’s a good place for a photo, right?
On the cliffs above an old river canyon.
We took a walk through the streets of the next village, and bumped into some village elders. They said they'd lived in the village their whole life.
This is the only well for the whole village right now.
We hiked on to the next village.
Through another gully.
This is the main road between two villages.
Here the front of the shrine to the White Horse God. Inside there are old painted murals that tell a legend of the village.
A photo with village kids.
On the way back to Beijing we stopped by Jimingyi, a walled town that dates back to the Ming Dynasty.
The eaves and decorations above the gate of a courtyard in Jimingyi.
Inside, an incense burner.
Tina is showing hikers the typical construction of a local house.
Inside another temple.
Really nice woodwork.
We walked by an old section of the Jimingyi town wall.
On top of the wall, with Cockscomb Mountain in the background.
From the walls we could see all the courtyards in the town.
The pavilion above the main gate.
The walls are about 200m long on each side.
Ready to head home.
Farewell to Jimingyi.