guides took us on an overnight hiking trip to a small village called LingShui JuRen Village ( ♦ map ) [ 灵水举人村 ] about 70 km west of Beijing. The driver was good (one of the few safe drivers in China), and the van ride there was decent. From there, we hiked through prickly bushes and over mountains for about 4 or 5 hours to JieShi Village ( ♦ map ) [ 碣石村 ], stopping for a nice homemade lunch on the mountaintop.
There were no hiking paths for the most part, and there was almost nobody else around the entire time which meant it was nice and quiet. It was mid-April so the apricot flowers were blooming beautifully. Heidi seemed to know where she was going for the most part even though she did have to scout out the route a few times, and there were some very slippery parts and the hike involved going through bristly branches for an extended period of time. I think the hike was meant for people with an adventurous spirit who don’t mind getting scratched by branches and don’t need taken care of.
Once we got to JieShi Village, we had a multiple dish home-cooked meal prepared by the villager whose house we stayed at. There were a couple of really good dishes (potatoes and garlic!) and other okay ones. The accommodation was alright (typical farm house stay), but to use the bathroom, we had to walk a couple of minutes out to a communal one with no dividers nor lights (basically holes in the ground). Unlike Cuandixia, this village didn't seem touristy at all. It strangely had these solar panel street lights that contrasted with the old village houses. There were no other tourists there. I personally preferred CuanDiXia since it seemed to be in better condition and more authentic-looking.
Overall, the trip was fine mainly because the guides seemed like nice, laid-back people and were pleasant company.