Leaf-peeping day trip to Fragrant Hills (香山)

We took a trip with friends to Beijing’s Fragrant Hills to go leaf peeping (that’s New Hampshire- for looking at fall foliage), for which 香山 (xiāng shān) is celebrated in popular Chinese imagination. Everyone wants to go see the 红叶s (red autumn leaves). It was a weekday, but the park and its paths were still “people-mountain-people-sea” (人山人海); packed with people. Getting photos was difficult. It was a nice walk and nice scenery, but the hills still have a ways to go before they recover from the deforestation suffered during the 2nd half of the 20th century, the effects of which is still pretty noticable.

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There used to be interesting historical sites on these mountains, but they were apparently all burnt down by invading Western forces during the 2nd Opium War, as the signs posted at each place of interest will point out: “… built by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty in 1745. It was burnt down by Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860.” Pretty sure that didn’t do much to help local environment either.

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You can see more photos from today in the photo gallery: Walking in Beijing’s Fragrant Hills.

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The road up to the main gate is lined on both sides with food vendors; closest thing to a Taipei nightmarket I’ve seen in China so far. Lots of good stuff to eat: meat-on-a-stick, roasted chestnuts, and bbq’d squid especially. I saw a guy walk by with huge scorpions on-a-stick, their tails all flopping around. I don’t know how they did it, but this was one of the cleanest parks I’ve ever seen; tons of people with food but no garbage or cigarette butts to be seen.

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