This weekend I went with Jeff’s work to see Beijing’s biggest waterfall in Cool Valley (清凉谷), in the suburbs about two hours from Beijing. It was nice to get out of the city, but the waterfalls were hardly impressive.
We stayed at a resort, of which there seemed to be a few. The resort was nestled in a small town in the mountains, but apparently Jeff wasn’t impressed:
The hotel boasted a (very dirty) pool, billiards, ping pong, shuffle board, a children’s play area with a ball pit, karaoke, barbecues and banquet-style meals. It seemed fairly new and aside from the pool it was quite clean. If you’re planning a trip, here’s a thorough Chinese website with resorts (left) and country homes (right). Prices for resorts are usually a little above 100 kuai, often with meals, scenic area tickets and a driver included. Country homes have fewer amenities, more authenticity and cheaper prices.
The scenic area where the waterfalls are features many of the typical gimmicks of Chinese tourist sites. This was really fun for the Chinese tourists, who haven’t grown up river rafting, hiking and fishing, but for those of us who generally spent summers outdoors it was kind of lame.
A man-made, stocked fish pond, which we got to help stock:
Several rickety rafts floating by Styrofoam bottoms (note: life vests were not actually buoyant):
Ropes course-style challenges over the small fish pond:
The waterfalls and hiking were decent, but not amazing — although the trail was state-of-the-art.
The climate is dry and warm here, somewhat like the Sierra Nevada mountains, so the waterfalls were mostly pretty small. The summer is much wetter, so folks said it’s better to visit in summer when the waterfalls are apparently more impressive.
But a hike is a hike, and it’s always nice to get away from the city, breathe some fresh air and admire the mountains.