Monday, April 29, 2013


Today was our last full day in China, we fly home tomorrow morning. We have a 5 am car to the airport--so it will be a VERY long day for these two travelers.
We had a wonderful day today with a long drive out of Beijing to the old village of Chaundixia. Our driver and guide Joe picked us up at 9 am for the long drive through the pretty countryside west of Beijing. Joe pointed out many interesting sights along the way.
Finally we arrived in Chaundixia and paid our small admission fee charged by the Chinese government to help maintain this beautiful old village. Chaundixia dates to the Ming dynasty (early 1600's), and now is home to about 15 families with a total population of 80 residents.  Every family has the surname of Han--the original two settlers of the village. The Chinese government has maintained the original village as a historical landmark. They have done some restoration but have not over-restored it as we've seen in some other locations. Many of the original painted surfaces remain, as well as most of the original buildings and stonework. A few of the families have opened their homes to visitors, even allowing overnight stays and serving meals.  We had a wonderful time roaming through the small village, down the narrow lanes and passageways and into some courtyards. 

Here are some photos from around the village:

This is some old "Mao" propaganda painted on the side of a building in the village.  Joe translated it for us, but I can't remember what it says!

David in front of a mural in the village:

David and our guide Joe, roaming around the village:

Here we are--in a doorway leading to one of the old buildings:


The village is built into a small mountainside, so we climbed the various levels, ending at the very top with a visit to a small temple and pagoda.

Looking up towards a pagoda near the temple:

Here we are at the entrance gate to the temple grounds:

Large incense burner in the temple courtyard:

Inside the temple:

Our guide Joe:

The view from the top of the mountain:

The pretty pagoda:

After enjoying the temple grounds and pagoda, and the amazing view across the valley, we walked back down to the village.
 There is a small gift shop selling a few items, so of course I did a little souvenir shopping! Just as we were leaving the village there were a few vendors along the road selling dried fruit and nuts, we stopped and bought a little snack for our drive home--they were delicious.
It was a 2 hour drive back to Beijing, and we enjoyed visiting with Joe along the way. He's such a nice guy and cheerfully answered our many questions about life in China. He dropped us at our hotel, we thanked him and wished him good luck. He wished us a long and prosperous life! What a great guide he has been for us.
We relaxed for a while, then walked several blocks to the same restaurant we'd eaten at Wednesday night for our Roast Duck dinner. We had a great dinner, trying a couple of new dishes--my favorite was sliced lamb with vanilla. It had a wonderful subtle vanilla flavor that was so delicious!

Lamb with vanilla--REALLY good.

Glazed chicken with walnuts, beautifully garnished with edamame, fern leaves and rose petals.  

We relaxed over dinner, enjoying the good food and great service while talking about our 4 1/2 weeks in China--what a trip it has been. Fascinating and frustrating, delicious and disgusting, and welcoming and secretive all at the same time. A country of contrasts, for sure. We are so glad we came!
Tomorrow: The long trip home.

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