A few weeks ago Buck and I did a great little round trip to the North of Beijing on trusty Mafan. It was only a day trip, but the route we found contained some of the best roads we’ve experienced in China so far. It’s called the Huairou Loop and was almost entirely made up of empty, twisty mountain roads that offered up some great views of the surrounding countryside.
Here is the route for anyone who might be interested. It’s about 250km without the small detour we made to the Lakeside Great Wall (ShuiHuaCheng 水长城), which I would recommend for a quick visit, as it’s far less crowded than some of the other Great Wall areas. You start to see signs for the turn-off when you get close, so there’s no way you can miss it. The wall is intersected by a dam, providing two manmade lakes. We found a spot for lunch by the water’s edge and Buck even took the opportunity to have a little dip.
On the way home we stopped for another short break at what can best be described as a Chinese style holiday ranch. We were riding along a straight bit of road, dense forrest on either side, when all of a sudden from one side of the road appear several long, brick and wood cabins that look like they were put up overnight (quite likely). Before you know it your weaving around kids being led on horses along the road (there’s only the one road) and dodging adults (and sometimes kids) on dirt bikes zooming up and down that same road. It was all very confusing and chaotic, but by the looks of things, everyone there was having a great time! I’m sure it would have been a fun place to stay over night, even if just to experience the slightly tacky yet still charming Chinese-ness of it all. This type of “back to nature” holidaying (although very loosely applied here), is becoming evermore popular with Chinese holiday makers.
I’m constantly surprised by the inventiveness of people here. I doubt any of the owners have proper licenses to open B&Bs, bars or restaurants at this ranch, not to mention renting out dirt bikes to kids, but that’s a minor inconvenience easily overcome by simply ignoring it. As with everything in China, if there’s an opportunity, someone will certainly find it and make the most of it.
Our last stretch of journey was nice and easy with some straightforward motorway riding and some nice views of the sunset. Our trip ended with a conveniently timed invite by a friend to join them at their family home for a bbq dinner. All in all it was a pretty good way to spend a Saturday in Beijing.
For anyone wanting to know more about the route, check out this (slightly grainy) video by Rubber on Road shot by yours truly.