Archive for the ‘Hebei Travel’ Category

Xiaohekou Great Wall

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018
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Are you interested in a Great Wall Tour? The Great Wall section extended west from Zhuizishan Great Wall is known as Xiaohekou Great Wall. Xiaohekou Great Wall is named after a natural village called “Xiaohekou” which literally means “a small river’s mouth”.

Xiaohekou Village is located within the administrative village known as Xigou Village in Yongan Town of Suizhong County in Liaoning Province.  Keeping on walking to the west from Xiaohekou Great Wall, you will get to Badaling Great Wall in Beijing while to the south, you will get to Shanhaiguan.

Xiaohekou Great Wall on the Great Wall east of Beijing

Escorted by our farmer turned guide – Lao Yang, we drive from Zhuizishan Great Wall westwards along a cement mountain road for about 9km, passing by Xiaohekou village and get to a simple parking lot in front of “the mouth of a dry river”, which is actually a narrow valley with a dry river spanned by a Great Wall pass – Xiaohekou Pass. Now the Great Wall pass  has been broken and damaged.

Now the Great Wall pass  has been broken and damaged.

Now the Great Wall pass (Xiaohekou Pass) has been broken and damaged.

Xiaohekou Great Wall was originally built from the year 1381 in Ming Dynasty with a total length of 8.9km. This section of the Great Wall has 36 watch towers, of which there are 12 towers have stone carvings in decorated design and style on the windows and doors.

Xiaohekou Great Wall was first discovered in July, 2004. Ever since there are more and more people coming to Xiaohekou including photographers, archaeologists, artists and normal travelers.

We walk through the broken Xiaohekou Pass (a small river’s mouth), turn left and climb up on a well built mountains slab paved road. 

Climb up on a well built mountains slab paved road

The wall is built of slabs

The wall is built of slabs

The first fort is over us, the largest on our hike up to the top. 

The first fort is over us, the largest on our hike up to the top.

Its east door is carved with beautiful flower designs.

Its door is carved with beautiful flower designs.

Its west stone door is also carved with decorative relief.

Its west stone door is also carved with decorative relief.

 

Inside the first floor of the bastion

Inside the first floor of the bastion

The officers stayed on the first floor while the soldiers on the second floor. A flight of stairs leading to the second floor of the fort.

A flight of stairs leading to the second floor of the fort.

We see unique battlements made entirely with masonry on the fort.

We see unique battlements made entirely with masonry on the fort.

The hole on the battlement is to hold a crossbow.

The hole on the battlement is to hold a crossbow.

Look down from the fort, we see Xiaohekou Village nestled in the valley by the mouth of a small river – Xiaohejou, hence the name of the village.

Look down from the fort, we see Xiaohekou Village

We continue to trudge up on a treacherous wall ridge up to the second watch tower.

We continue to trudge up on a treacherous wall ridge up to the second watch tower.

Xiao Hao, my colleague, is hiking in an opposite direction to the east instead of to the west where we hike.

Xiao Hao, my colleague, is hiking in an opposite direction

This is the second fort with its stone door also decorated with beautiful carvings.

This is the second fort with its stone door also decorated with beautiful carvings.


Let us have a close look at the decorative relief.

Let us have a close look at the decorative relief.

Standing on the second open floor of the fort, I snap a picture of the great wall ahead of us in the east.

I snap a picture of the great wall ahead of us in the east.

Xiao Hao is sitting on a dilapidated tower on the hill to our west.

Xiao Hao is sitting on a dilapidated tower on the hill to our west.

We don’t move further and turn back along the same mountain road back to the mouth of the small river – Xiaohekou.

back to the mouth of the small river – Xiaohekou

Then we drive to the nearby village – Xiaohekou Village. Most of the villagers are the descendants of the army guiding the Great Wall, who were from Yiwu, a town in southern China, which was the hometown of Qi Jiguan (November 12, 1528 – January 5, 1588).

Qijiguan is was the Wall’s architect in chief responsible for the building of the great wall from Beijing to Shanhaiguan. Qi’s army of guardians, joined by their families made the Wall alive with villages, fields, orchards and many of which survive to this day. Xiaohekou Village is one of them. which still keeps some traces in Ming and Qing dynasties.

 

Xiaohekou Village is one of them. which still keeps some traces in Ming and Qing dynaties

A Ming and Qing style bungalow house

A Ming and Qing style bungalow house

Chengziyu Great Wall

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018
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Planning your Great Wall tour? If hiking on unrestored and original sections of the Wall is your main interest, then Chengziyu Great Wall is not to be missed.

This section of the Great Wall lies to the west of Xiaohekou Great Wall. If you keep on walking from Chengziyu Great Wall to the west, you will reach Badaling Great Wall in Beijing; to the east and south, you will get to Shanhai Pass.

Chengziyu Great Wall is named after the village for the name’s sake. Chengziyu Village is under the administration of Fuxiang County of Qinhuangdao in Hebei Province.

We drive westward about 15km from Xiaohekou Great Wall along the asphalt mountain road past Xigu Village (3km), Damashan Mountain(6km) and Dongjiakou Village (14km),  and finally get to Chengziyu Village.

Chengziyu Great Wall on the Great Wall east of Beijing

 

Actually there are much to see on the Great Wall near Xigu Village, Damaoshan Mountain and Dongjiakou Village. Not enough time, we have to give up. Maybe next time. There were three castles built in Ming Dynasty – Damaoshan castle,Dongjiakou Castle and Chengziyu Castle.

On our way to Chengziyu Great Wall, we ask our driver to stop at Dongjiakou Village to snap some pictures. Dongjiakou Pass was an important Great Wall pass north of Shanhaiguan Pass.

Most of the villagers in Dongjiakou Village are the descendants of the army and builders coming from Yiwu and Shaoxing led by Qi Jiguang, the architect in chief  in charge of the rebuilding of the great wall from Beijing Juyongguan Pass in the west to Shanhai Pass in the east.

Pass by the dilapidated castle at Dongjiakou Village with the Great wall looming overhead.

the dilapidated castle at Dongjiakou Village

Dongjiakou Village and the Great Wall

Dongjiakou Village and the Great Wall

Move further west for about one and half kms, we reach Chengziyu Great Wall. “Chengziyu” literally means “castle’s valley”.

The remaining arch of the castle was too treacherous, it was rebuilt last year. The restored castle remnant looks ugly, a little disappointing, lacking the originality.

The restored castle remnant looks ugly

Mr.Zhang Heshan is the only Great Wall warden in Chengziyu Great Wall. He is also a member of China Great Wall Protection Association.

He is the 14th generation of the descendants from the army and builders led by Qi Jiguang from Yi Wu, a town in southern China. He is our guide today.

With Mr.Zhang taking the lead, we walk along the narrow lanes in the village.

With Mr.Zhang taking the lead, we walk along the narrow lanes in the village

Each family has a stone courtyard in the village.

Each family has a stone courtyard in the village.

We come across a placard saying “Take nothing but photos; leave nothing but footprints; keep the wall wild and wonderful”.

Take nothing but photos; leave nothing but footprints; keep the wall wild and wonderful

The so called Chengziyu Great Wall is divided into two sections with the wide valley in the middle – east section and west section. Mr. Zhang suggests we climb the west section since we come to the village in the afternoon.

He says it is better to come to enjoy the Chengziyu Great Wall in the morning hiking the east section for better views. He also introduces that in the past between the two sections the valley pass of the Great Wall. Now Chengziyu Pass has disappeared.

Half way on the hill, we turn back at the village down blow. Mr.Zhang says the village is nestled in the valley in the shape of the Big Dipper.

Look at the east and zoom in the line of the Great Wall towers on the east section, east side of the valley.

Look at the east and zoom in the line of the Great Wall towers.


Follow Mr.Zhang hiking up to the west section along wall path rife with bushes and saplings.

Follow Mr.Zhang hiking up to the west section along wall path rife with bushes and saplings


We climb pass the first fort and again have a glimpse of the village below.

We climb past the first fort and again have a glimpse of the village below.


We continue to move to the second fort.

We continue to move to the second fort.

The wall is built with bricks with dressed slat base.

The wall is built with bricks with dressed slat base.

Taking a photo with Mr.Zhang west of the second three-eye tower (three windows).

Taking a photo with Mr.Zhang west of the second watch tower.

We stop at the middle way between the second and the third tower. I snap a picture of the third fort and stop moving further.

I snap a picture of the third fort and stop moving further

Mr.Zhang asks me to turn right (east side) and say it was once a large trade and market area on the border area. On the right side (south) was inside the wall while on the left side was outside the wall.

If the residents from outside the wall entering the Great wall pass, they must show their ID documents in the past. He says now his village is on the south under the administration of Hebei Province while the village on the north (left side) of Liaoning Province.

it was once a large trade and market area on the border area

It is almost dinner time and Mr.Zhang asks us to have dinner at his home. Climb down the hill, we see smoke rising from a kitchen chimney.

we see smoke from a kitchen chimney.


Mr.Zhang’wife has already been busy with preparing us for a local dinner. 
His house is a two-storey building, one of the two two-storey buildings in the village, belonging to some of the people who have got rich first.

His house is a two-storey building

One of their bedrooms, clean and spacious.

One of their bedrooms, clean and spacious.


In less than half hour, an organic meal is presented on the table; fried eggs from their own naturally raised chickens; braised pork in soy sauce with the pork from their own raised pigs and vegetables from their fields, which, for urban residents, is too luxury!

an organic meal is presented on the table

 

144-hour visa-free stays in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei

Thursday, February 8th, 2018
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From December 28, 2017, Nationals from 53 countries with eligible travel identification and reserved tickets with a fixed date to a third country or regions ((Hong Kong and Macau) are allowed to have 144-hour visa free stays in the three places of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province.

People from the 53 nationalities that previously benefited from Beijing’s 72-hour visa-free transit policy are eligible for the new policy. The passengers from the 53 countries are able to move freely in the three places for sightseeing, on business or visit friends or family.


The 53 Countries Benefited from the 144-Hour New Policy:

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1) 24 Schengen countries in Europe: 
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovak, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

2) 15 other European countries:
Russia, Great Britain, Ireland, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Monaco and The Republic of Belarus.

3) 6 American countries: 
The United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile.

4) 2 Oceanian countries:
Australia and New Zealand.

5) 6 Asian countries: 
Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.


Officially Designated Entry Points in the three places of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei: 

__________________________________________________________________

Ports of entry and exit are extended to designated international railway stations, seaports and airports. Previously, the policy was applied only at airports. Now passengers are allowed to arrive and exit at the following six points in the three places:

Beijing Capital International Airport
Tel: 0086-10-96158

Beijing West Railway Station in the capital
Tel: 0086-10-51824233

Tianjin Binhai International Airport
Tel: 0086-22-96777

Tianjin International Cruise Home Port in Tianjin
Tel: 0086 -22-25605128

Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport
Tel: 0086-311-96360

Qinhuangdao seaport in Hebei province
Tel: 0086-335-3099676


How to Apply for 144-Hour free-visa stay in the three places:

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When you exit your plane, just follow the throng or the signs directing you to international arrivals, immigration and customs.

Passport Control/Immigration
In the Passport Control/Immigration Area, there are mainly two connected zones ( lanes ): Lanes for Foreign Citizens on the left side and Chinese Citizens on the right side.

Find your special lanes for 144-hour visa-free transit passengers
Some 144-hour transit passengers miss their layover tour in Beijing simply because they cannot locate the special lanes to get the visa-free permit. Actually the special lanes for 72-hours visa-free transit are located just on the left side of the Lanes for Foreign Citizens as well as on the right side of the Lanes for Chinese Citizens.

You need to fill up the entry registration card and get your 144- hours free visa stay permit, a stamp on your passport. The items for filling up the registration to get your 144-hour free visa stay permit:

Name,Sex, Birth, Passport Number, Nationality, Arrival Date, Arrival Flight, Exit Time, Exit Flight, Contact Phone Number in Beijing, Address in Beijing (Tianjin or Hebei), Reception Unit or Person, Reception Unit Phone Number.

Go through Customs, claim your luggage ( if necessary ) and leave airport.

What you can do during your 144-hour visa-free stay in the three places:
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The 144-hour visa-free transit allows you for a sufficient time to visit Beijing, or Tianjin and Hebei per your travel request. For more information Beijing tours, Tianjin tour and Hebei tour, please check out the following links:

Beijing Layover tour
Beijing Tour Packages

Tianjin Tour
Tianjin Cruise Port Transfer & Tour

Hebei Tour
Shijiazhuang Tour
Chengde Tour
Zhangjiakou Tour
Qinhuangdao Tour

For any questions, please drop a line.