A few weekends ago the DH and I, together with other friends, had a weekend away at a place called Mutianyu. Mutianyu is a village which nestles in a ravine on the southern slopes of the Yanshan Mountains, some 70 kms north-east of Beijing. It is mainly known for being one of the three public access points to the Great Wall of China closest to the capital (the other two being Badaling and Simatai).
Our friends had rented a house for two days and nights, and invited us to go along. What a joy to get out of the city for a couple of days, breathe clear mountain air, and take in the glorious views. We set off loaded down with books to read, lots of food (we were self-catering), lots of wine, walking boots (not mine!) cameras etc. An hour and a half later we were there.
The house – La Petite Muraille – is owned by a French-American couple who used to live in Beijing. It is now managed on their behalf by ‘Brickyard at Mutianyu‘, and we were the first guests to stay there. What a wonderful place it turned out to be.
Two very ancient and delapidated adjoining houses had been renovated and turned into one spectacularly comfortable house, with every mod-con, but retaining a Chinese style. Our bedroom had a fabulous Chinese style four-poster!
There were amazing views in every direction from both the house and the garden. We looked out over the magnificent vista with the nearby slopes displaying every autumn colour dotted here and there with the wild persimmon trees which are characteristic of this part of northern China.
Needless to say the DH, who loves to climb hills, was in his element and one morning set off at 6.00am to climb up to the Great Wall to watch the sunrise.
He was rewarded with a fabulously clear day, and not a soul in sight (a rare thing in China!!). Others took the cable car which runs from 8.00am onwards and then hiked back down. I just relaxed on the terrace enjoying the peace and quiet, the beautiful scenery and the fresh air. For the first time in ages I did some sketching – I’d forgotten how much I enjoy drawing, and have made a promise to myself that I will do it more often.
The one Chinese member of our party loves cooking and he happily set to and produced magnificent meals. After dinner each evening we all sat round a roaring fire sipping wine and discussing life in China and what amazing contrasts we have all experienced here.
Returning to Beijing on the Monday morning we all felt our batteries were fully recharged. Truly a weekend to remember.