Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Walk into Chinese History

A friend sent me this article. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the full article.

Hiking Into Chinese History

PEOPLE do not usually think of outdoor activities when you mention Beijing. But the city is surrounded by a horseshoe of mountains, nearly a mile high, and fall is the perfect season to visit them.

The mountains protected the city from barbarians on the plains to the north, west and east, and that was one of the reasons why Kublai Khan established his capital there in 1267, starting what the Chinese call the Yuan Dynasty. The city was then called Dadu. You can still see some ruins from that time at Beijing's Dadu Ruins Park between the Third and Fourth ring roads north of the city center. The park contains some replica stuff, and an old mud wall that dates from Kublai Khan's time.

But there is much more Mongolian romance to be found outside of the city in the mountains, where you can combine historical pursuits with some of the finest day hiking in China.

The area around the village of Fanzipai in Miyun County to the north of Beijing is mountainous and wild. There are villages like Fanzipai in the valleys, and you can use them as jumping-off points for hikes into the mountains.

Fanzipai — which means foreign writing sign — also has a Yuan Dynasty relic: some large rocks engraved with Sanskrit and Tibetan Buddhist verses. The carvings were probably made by traveling monks — Tibetans, Mongolians and other central Asians. The rocks are behind a gate, which is usually locked, but you can walk around the back to view them. There are signs in Chinese and English with a brief note about the rocks. No ticket is necessary.

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