Oh, it’s all so relative – things can be so far, yet so close, and distance and time just can vary so much. Recently we went to this lovely (and still active) monastery site (of 8 temples) called BaDaChu: it’s in Beijing Western hills, in Shijingshan District (I recall that the city spans 100+ miles so hard to “get away” that easily), yet it’s outside the city where the green, rolling mountains start.
We spent 2.5 hours hiking up the mountain to the nine temple sites, and a mere 10 minutes coming down with a cable car. It was beautiful, not too hot and the air was relatively fresh – so it really left like being in the nature, in the middle of nowhere. But the ride down revealed the “truth” as the city was spreading out in front of us: a good landmark to look are the high-rise buildings to the left of the TV tower (located in the middle), as they are roughly in the middle of the city’s central business district (CBD). Our house is way on the other side of the city – a good 40 minutes with a car from the CBD on a good day, but some 2 hours on a weekend afternoon traffic (of course everyone goes out just like we do, and as the normal driving restrictions are off so there are lots more cars. Normally we all have one weekday when we are not allowed to drive in the city, and that day rotates quarterly..).
The day was such a success that we made a promise ot come back: we plan to take another lovely hike using a different route to the top, but this time it’s going to be rewarded with a fast slide down the 2 km/ 1+ mile long go-carts, or whatever their name now is (and note that the lenght is just my estimation, but the track keeps criss-crossing the mountain and just looks really really long and fun) – what a great reward it will be for the strenuous exercise up the hill!
My review of BaDaChu 八大处: Good
See link to my full story on Badachu
“Badachu had less people so it’s more pleasant to visit; an added bonus is the getting fit factor since you climb up tons of stairs. The views are beautiful and the place feels more authentic. There are some snacks for sale, but less than in other touristic locations. Suitable for kids also, but not if you have a pram. Would not recommend going on a very rainy day as it would get pretty slippery.
We’ll be back to the take car slide down as this time we did the cable cars, and this one is particilarty long and windy, so it should be a lot of fun. Many locations have cable cars and slides down, which makes it easier and provides a “fun reward” for kids at the end of the hike. Normally these “rides” are priced between 30-60 RMB ($ 4.5-9 USD).”