Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Late Fall Wall Camping

During the China's national holiday, the first week of October, esther came to Beijing to visit. It's a great time to be in Beijiing, because so many people leave. True, people travel all over the place during the holiday, but many more leave the city than come to it. This is because there are vastly more people who have moved here to work that return home for the holidays, than people who come for vacation. The result is, in general less people.

Plus, Beijing always seeds the clouds to make it rain a few days before the holiday, which clears away the pollution for a week or so.

One day, about ten of us went up to Jiankou, the part of the wall i go for camping. The weather was typical of late fall, with cool afternoons and potentially cold evenings. Only esther and i decided to brave actual camping, while the rest stayed at a small inn at the village below. For us, camping turned out to be a magnificent choice.

It was the first time i went camping that we had the tower to ourselves. After hiking around, we built a 3-hour fire, made Annie's Mac and Cheese, drank wine, had hot cocoa with rum, and enjoyed absolute peace and infinite stars. It was not nearly as cold as i anticipated. We didn't use any of the extra blankets or sleeping bags we brought, and i don't think i ever wore all the clothes i had.

We woke up for the sunrise, enjoyed oatmeal and english tea for breakfast, and listened to the early morning sounds of the wall.

We hiked a bit more and made our way over to the sky stairs before heading back down to the village to meet the others.

On our way back to Beijing, we stopped to play CS, which is very popular up there. CS stands for Counter Strike, basically outdoor laser tag. You get a vest and helmet with light sensors on it and a laser gun. Your vest tells you when you've been hit by vibrating violently for a few seconds, and it tells you when you've hit someone else by vibrating pleasantly for a second. The whole thing is fairly realistic. We played outdoors in a valley with natural cover like trees and bushes, as well as bailed hay and barracks. The valley had hills and cliffs on two sides, and offered a great spot to sniper the enemy as they entered the game. One team enters first and sets up a position. Two minutes later, the enemy enters the field and advances.

I remember diving out of the way, rolling, jumping around unfamiliar terrain, sprinting up the side of a mountain, providing cover fire for my advancing comrades, and feeling the rush of adrenaline when i got hit. Yeah, we got into it.

We ended the trip at a spa, boasting a few dozen different hot tubs. Each one had a special name, like Green Tea, Red Wine, Lavender, and Mint. If you thought about it hard enough, you could maybe smell the fragrance indicated, but the water was certainly dyed to be the color of it. That was weird. Also weird, the pool with fish that eat the dead skin off your feet.


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