Sunday, July 17, 2011

A gorge is a gorge is a gorge

In yet another exciting adventure of foreigners being herded into a giant bus and shuttled to the outskirts of Beijing, we non-Chinese workers at CIPG, Beijing Review's parent group, and a few Chinese interpreters found ourselves outside the barrier of the capital city's perpetual smog. The skies were clear, the sun shining (and my skin burning) as we enjoyed a field trip -- which even at the age of 25 are still amusing -- to Longqing Gorge and Yeya Lake.

But, there was a catch, as there always is when the Chinese treat us to an all expenses paid excursion. Not only would we be visiting these locales, we were expected to photograph them as part of a photo competition for foreigners. The Chinese (in general, not just those on our trip) and their super duper high tech cameras were excluded from participating. This was a relief, since my rinky-dink little Canon 500D is no match for the awesomeness of Canon 5Ds or 7Ds or the firepower of most upper model Nikons.

The gorge was impressive. To reach the river portion we had to ascend a staircase in the shape of a dragon, walking through its bowels to reach the peak. A small boat ferried us up and down the reaches of a small river running between the intricately carved mountains that formed the rocky throughway. Then we had to get out and walk, a not so fun turn of events since i was beginning to enjoy the cool gorge river breeze.

We then stopped by a polo club, for reasons unknown, to enjoy a light snack of tea and biscuits, or as we in the States properly call them, cookies.

Then it was off to Yeya Lake, which means Wild Duck Lake. The lake was wild only in the sense that the ducks were tethered to poles out in the middle of the lake. Actually, they seemed quite tame, briskly walking past foreigners and quaking loudly, as if to say "HEY! I'm waddlin here! I'm waddlin here" before snapping their beaks at someone's leg. A few were brave enough to allow a foreign to pick them up for a photo op. And when someone brought out a bag of biscuits, ahem, cookies, the pond, quite literally, went wild with ducks scrambling over one another to get a quick treat.

I do enjoy these infrequent chances to get outside the city on the company's dime. They could have said we were going Beijing's enormous, and almost never seen, garbage relocation facilities (that's what they call them here) and I still would have been excited. It's a chance to see a different part of China -- and, more importantly, to learn how to use my 500D. Cameras these days are so complicated.

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