Beijing Caves

Trip Start Dec 13, 2009
Trip End Jan 22, 2010

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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Sunday, January 3, 2010

Today was an early start because we would be going on yet another tour with Lydnsey.  This time,we would be going to  new place for us; the Beijing caves.  If I am honest, I will admit that I have never heard of the Beijing caves before, but I was excited to see what they would be like without any expectations.  We woke up to a light dusting of snow, which is a great surprise because Beijing humidity is usually too dry to snow.  The snow, though pretty, did pose some potential problems for us; we may not be able to go to the caves if the snow was hard enough.  We took the risk, and would have a great bus ride if that was all we could do.  So we piled into the mini bus, scarves and beanies and gloves in tow. 
The bus ride there was over two hours, and during that time, we talked or slept or played on iPods.  We arrived in the town of the caves, a big Texan-style sign saying 'Welcome to Jackson Hole' greeting us.  That seemed odd- we're hours out of the city, so we were expecting a traditional Chinese village.  The weirdness grew once we got out of the bus, and saw hundreds of Texan-style houses identical to one another there, with more being built.  It was a village that I would imagine the Wild Wild West was filmed in, except the Wild Wild West may have had some diversity in the house designs.  Apparently over 70% of those houses have already been sold, mostly to rich Chinese people to have as a holiday home. It was a very interesting experience.

We rugged up and made our way up to the caves.  They were made thousands of years ago, and was later used for an army base because of its position. The rigid mountains surrounding them made it hard for enemy armies to attack,and easy for them to defend.  The caves looked from the outside like holes in the rock of the mountain; and it became clear how hard it must have been to create them all those years ago.  The few caves that were low to the ground, we were able to go in.  They typically had three rooms, and a low ceiling.  The description told us that they had kitchens, bedrooms and heated beds.  They were architecturally brilliant- everything was very well planned, from the wooden facades that there used to be to the stairs that led to the higher caves.  It was great to see all of these.  The place where they were was the most peaceful place that I have ever been to.  We were the only tourists that I could see, and the air was clear.  It was so quite, and had a serene and calm feel.  I can only imagine how that will change once the village of Jackson Hole is fully constructed and up and running, but I am glad that I got a chance to see this before it is. 

We were hiking around the caves for about an hour and a half, which was enough time to see everything.  We got back on the bus and had lunch at the typical tour lunch place- a jade factory and shop with a restaurant on top.  This type of place is to a tour guide what jam is bread- they need each other.  The jade factory gives the tour guide commission for taking their tour group there, and in return they hope that we buy up big in the jade store.  The lunch is included in our tour, and is Chinese food, with an obvious Western spin, because most of the people who eat there are western.  We didn't buy anything there, as we had been to this place countless times before (I'd estimate 7), so we instead gawked at the ludicrously high prices and hypothesized how you would take home a 2.2million RMB jade boat (two meters high and three meters long) back to your home if you really wanted to.  My guess was that it was in parts, because otherwise it wouldn't even fir through the door to get out of the factory.
We took the bus back to the hotel, and Hayley and Dad went to the market to buy a suitcase.  It was evident that we would not fit in our things into the four suitcases that we had brought over.  Once they got back, we met Rebecca in the lobby of the hotel.  She was going to be taking us to Sammy's house to meet her new baby.

The taxi there was awhile, but it was worth it once we got there.  Faye, Sammy's husband, met us and took us up to the apartment.  Everyone was in the baby's room, including Sammy and Rebecca's friend Vivienne, her boyfriend and another friend Clarke.  Clarke and Vivienne both studied in Australia with Rebecca and Sammy.  The baby boy was gorgeous- though currently without a name, so he is nicknamed An An (meaning peaceful) until he does.  He must be named within 31 days of his birth, and then a party will take place.  He was so tiny; and for someone only a week old, he was very aware.  He was looking around at everyone, well aware that the focus of everyone's attention was on him.  We were introduced to him as 'sister' amy, laura, hayley, elyse, uncle andrew and aunty sharon.  I love that.
Once we had gazed at him for long enough, and taken what would have been a full roll of pictures, Rebecca took us back to her place for dinner.  Some neighbours of theirs also came to join us; we had never met them, but they gave us the most beautiful gift of a set of hand crafted masks that are worn in the Beijing opera.  They are small masks, and are presented in a frame.  We were so grateful to them for that.  Rebecca's mum cooked us the most delicious feast- pork, salmon, chicken and vegetables filled our table.  We ate and ate until we were stuffed, and us kids excused ourselves to watch glee off my computer in my room until the adults were ready to call it a night.  I waved my family good-bye as they went into the taxis.  They would be going home tomorrow, and I was not going to go to the airport, as it is too far away.  I said my goodbyes, which were actually surprisingly hard, but I knew that I would enjoy my remaining three weeks with Rebecca, as her whole family spoil me! 
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kovacsfamily on

Hey Amy, it sounds like you have had some fun times while the family have been there with you, the next few weeks will go quickly i'm sure, times flies when u r having fun... (or so the saying goes), i'm sure you'll continue to benefit from the chinese language course and invaluable time spent with Rebecca and her family, plus make the most of the yummy delicious food you have been eating, (not that your mum's cooking isn't great...). I love reading your blogs about your travels and adventures they are always so informative and interesting...stay safe (& warm)...looking forward to reading more about your next few weeks in China. Jodi

joan34 on

Hope your next 3 weeks are as great as tge last few. Heard all about the home trip and lots more from dad
Lots of love
Nana & Pa

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