It often seems every fifth hill in China is a sacred mountain or tourist destination in some sense. After the bus ride and the late night of food and beer, we were up at 6 to begin our 4WD assault on the bumpy roads of Panshan. This is an overpriced tourist trap, compared to any other mountain or temple I’ve been to in China. I don’t recommend it – there are far nicer places, even within Beijing proper, that cost less and are way easier to reach. This may be why it appears in none of my many tourist books: but I gotta admit, I did get a kick out of FINALLY getting off the foreign tourist routes, 16 months after I arrived here. Let me stress: the foreign tourist route: as we descended, the stream of 4WDs bumping their way up the rutted and muddy track was quite astounding, given the frankly mediocre quality of the attractions on offer. Still and all, the surrounding mountains made a lovely backdrop and we enjoyed the views and the air.

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