Yesterday, we set off to go bungee jumping, but it seems that out penchant for unexpected adventures has led us astray yet again! And this time we have more victims.
First, none of us knew of the plans at all. We pretty set off at half past 10 in the morning. Everything was pretty much going according to plan. We were going to Qinglong Gorge, doing our jumps and coming back by the end of the day.
As usual, Muakine was doing his thing, delighting the other passengers.
We got into Beijing city and after a few buses, we were about 2 hours north west the city. Upon leaving the bus, we immediately mobbed by hordes of illegal taxi drivers offering to drive us to our destination. All 7 of us finally got into a mini van and went off towards the gorge.
Close to the gorge was supposed to be a quaint, old village. Here’s where everything went off the rails. Suddenly the decision was made to spend the night in the village and head to the gorge in the morning. And this was where I started to get worried. Since it was initially meant to be a day-trip, I was only wearing shorts and a singlet. But I figured I’ll survive, either I could pick something up from a shop or borrow an extra jacket.
The taxi drivers brought us to a few places to stay, but they were all demanding 50RMB per person for the night. And all of them were insisting that we pay in advance. My travel companions were unimpressed, and were even more so when we caught wind that the drivers were going to get a cut from the guest house operator. After lots of arguing we just paid them for the ride and made a very hasty escape. We walked around the streets in the village, bought some snacks and beer.
Shortly there after, we on horses. It was all quite funny. While walking, someone approached us and asked if we wanted to ride a horse. Most of us weren’t terribly keen and we said that there were 7 of us and not enough horses. A few phone calls later, each of us was on a horse. It was all rather random I’d say.
I was quite lucky, I ended up on a horse that appeared to have a rather gentle temperament. Each of us had a guide with us to walk along side the horse and lead us up a hill for a better view of our surroundings.
We had a quick break, the horses were left to rest for a bit and we got to chat a little with our guides. The way down was interesting. I was given a short stick by my guide who told me to use if on the horse’s side if I wanted to go faster. And then he just left me with the horse and the road.
At this point I was the lead horse, and surprisingly the horse seemed to read my intentions well. So we went for a comfortable gallop down the road. A little while later, my friend and her guide, both on horse back, passed me and led us though the edge of a field. It was here that we went at a full gallop. The lead horses ran with mine following closely behind. The sound of hooves on the ground and the wind rushing past my ears both combined into sheer exhilaration.
Entering the town, we were shown a place where we could spend the night for only 15RMB each, a far cry from what the previous place wanted to charge us. But my travel companions were still hesitant to pay upfront.
We continued walking around the village. I wouldn’t say that it was old or quaint, but just that it was a village. The experience was rather pleasant regardless. We went back to the provision shop and purchased more beer and snacks and proceeded to the edge of town.
At the village’s edge, it wasn’t quite the woods that we were hoping for, but more like farms. In the end we settled at a pile of rocks next to a corn field. We sat, we drank, we ate, we chatted. The sun passed the horizon and I started playing some Psytrance from my phone and began to contact staff, rather drunkenly.
As our supply of snacks ran low, we made our way back into the village and found a place to have a meal.
The food wasn’t anything special or unique. But I did get to eat a barbecued rabbit’s head as one else was game enough to try it.
At the end of our meal, we proceeded back to our accommodations, but this time they wanted to charge us 20RMB each because we were coming in late. We didn’t have much of a choice so we paid up and settled in for the night. In the morning, we set off for the gorge. A short walk later, we were at the gate to the gorge.
To my horror, the place looked like a theme park, and a gaudy one at that!
Thankfully however, the boat ride though the gorge was beautiful. No sight of the gaudy theme park, but natural beauty and the ever present Beijing smog.
We were finally at the bungee platform, it really wasn’t as tall as the pictures made it out to be. But then one usually expects that these days, especially in China.
On the platform’s edge, I waved back to my companions. And with outstretched arms, I tipped forwards and fell off the platform. Plummeting towards the waters below, it took my mind a while to realise that this really wasn’t natural. It was very much like the sperm whale and bowl of petunias experience. It was however a little disappointing that I didn’t get to fall backwards. The jump operator initially said that I could do a reverse fall, but when I got on the platform, he refused to let me do it.
In addition to the bungee, a few of us also took the zip-line, which sad to say, was utterly underwhelming. On the bright side, it was a more interesting way to descend than just using the stairs.
While we were down at the docks waiting for the boat back, we ended up doing our thing again, contact juggling and contact staff to the enthralled public. Finally, after the giant misadventure, we made our way back to Beijing city and the school.