Guyaju

2014-02-07 07.23.45On Friday then I planned to go to Guyaju, the cave formation in the north-east of Beijing. Not even my host and his family knew about it so I hoped to find a not to crowded area. When I went up I had my first surprise: Everything outside was white. I decided to go anyway and hoped the snow wouldn’t affect the public transport as much as it might in Germany. Again, like for the wall, I tried to follow the detailed description of the Lonely Planet. After 2 hours in the first bus I got off in some small town and looked for the next one. More or less instantly rivers approached me and asked where I wanted to go and offered me to take there for 50 Yuan (the next bus would be 5). I declined and tried to find my bus. Unfortunately no bus was coming and several people told me different things about the busses so I was quite confused. The drivers also indicated me that the busses wouldn’t go because of the snow and they were kind enough to drive me (of course!). In the end I was a bit annoyed by them and left the bus stop to think about what to do next. After a few minutes I did see my bus and went to the next bus stop to take it from there; I arrived another 40 minutes later at a small village in the middle of nowhere. It took probably another 30 minutes to walk through the snow to finally reach the entrance of Guyaju.

2014-02-07 12.40.37I couldn’t see anybody else so I still considered myself lucky to go here. I felt a bit bad when I had to wake up the two people selling tickets but when they realized what I wanted the explained me that it was closed today because of the snow (I assume it’s too dangerous/ slippery?); that much for the good idea to come here. I went a bit behind the ticket house to read the inscriptions there and decided then to try to go in anyway. In the worst case a quick “不懂 – I don’t understand” would do the trick and nobody could really do anything. I went past the place where they check the tickets and already thought I would have done it when I heard a voice yelling behind me. I turned around and saw a man signaling to me to come back. Well, he explained the same to me and told me I wasn’t allowed to go up. So in the end I didn’t have any choice but leaving and going back to Beijing. A bit disappointed I arrived 9 hours after I left the house, without having seen anything.

2014-02-07 20.35.26In the evening we had dinner with some friends of the family and later we drank tea together. While that sounds like a simple thing it’s quite an event (at least for me); in one room the family has a tea-table, which is a table equipped with everything you need for a Chinese tea ceremony. Besides a stove and a tap for water it has slits that serve as a drainage for the water and tea that is spilled for various reasons. The basic procedure is always the same; the boiling water is poured into the tea pot with loose tea in it. After maybe 30 seconds the tea is than poured out of the pot into another one that it doesn’t get more intense. While the simple German technique would then be to just drink the tea, the Chinese ceremony requires to wash the little cups that we will drink of with this tea (I assume that’s also because at the first time it might be too strong) and to “scarify” some of the tea; that is done by pouring it over some small statue (in this case a squirrel on a log). Now it also makes sense to have this drainage and not have all the cups and pots standing within the spilled tea. The next batch is then for drinking, you sip from the tiny cups and as soon as it’s empty the will probably be refilled. All together it’s nothing you do when you are thirsty but rather a get together to talk and to enjoy a good tea.