林海浮亭 Floating Pavilion in a sea of Forest.

Nicholas Quirke was escaping Beijing again on 2nd May 2020 for a mountain retreat. This was what he was here to see, some of the natural beautiful landscapes of China and now that most of the travel restrictions were being lifted he could get out of the city and breathe in the cool clear mountain air of the Huairou County. Their first destination was Shentangyu Natural Scenic Area, a national park, where a relatively well preserved Relic section of the Great Wall had been an important fortress for Beijing during the Ming dynasty, Despite their early start at 7am there was already a lot of traffic on the roads, full of Beijingers anxious to make the most of the holiday and the lifted restrictions. They took a 7 km hike up hills, across brooks and streams, through paths hewn into the rock, drinking in the gorgeous inspiring and romantic scenes. The weather was spectacular, The skies blue, the sun scorching. They were able to pick up a park cart which would take them back to the car and as they waited took advantage of the Shijiazhuang, outdoor gym, Their next location was for lunch at another exotic Buddhist vegan restaurant where every member of staff smiled benignly and bowed a greeting. The food was delicious and gave him the energy to enjoy the next stop at the ancient Hongluo Temple, built in the Originally built in the Yuan Dynasty. The temple and its various Pavilions, built on the side of a mountain was swarming with visitors all making the long, steep climb up 800 meters, along side a number of shrines, which seemed to weary even the most robust and hearty of the Pilgrims. As they moved through the paths of this exquisite ancient monument Nicholas found himself deeply moved and almost unable to speak, as he stood in the presence of two Gingko trees, a male and a female , that had stood in that spot for over 1100 years and his thoughts turned to the experience, the knowledge the advances of mankind that had happened in the time and the trees had borne witness to. At the top, surveying the vista he was struck by the beauty of the pavilions, appearing to be floating in a sea of green forest. It was a haunting and memorable sight which fuelled his imagination as they made their way back down the temple path. They encountered a Zodiac park which had sculptures of the 12 animals which marked the passing of time and reminding him that it was now his birth year and the Rat sculpture was being especially honoured throughout the period. It had been a wonderful if exhausting day, it had been a long time since he had been so physically vigorous and even more tiring for Peng who had driven them around and the slow traffic on the way home added to the enervation both felt. This did not stop them from stopping at Solana Mall to visit tribe for a tofu wrap and some Vegan chocolate Cheesecake. Even though they were physically drained, the heat compelled Peng to clean air con. Finally they sat down to end the evening with a film by Tim Burton which despite a couple of scares proved to be an aid to sleep.

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