I had an incredible experience staying in a Chinese rural village – Hexi Village (河西村). It was in autumn, the weather was cold on the outskirt. The journey to the village from downtown Beijing took about 3 hours that day, taking a fully occupied bus all the way long to the village was a suffering experience. No free seat, we (I got an Indonesian backpacker friend going along with me) had to keep standing in the bus for 3 hours.
Once we arrived the village, Xu dama (an aunt who looks 50-year-old at her age) was already there for us. She is an enthusiastic person, explaining and telling us the story of the village while leading us to her house, the place where we lodged for a night. We were then greet by Xu dashu (the owner of the house) and his elder sister, showing us around his farmhouse and the available rooms. Finally, we had chosen the one and only room that came with a special bed called kengchuang (坑床). It is said that this special bed will keep us warm. We were actually lucky enough to have the room because it is usually occupied.
While we were chatting with Xu dashu, Xu dama started preparing us authentic meal. The kitchen is small and simple with only some cooking utensils. One of my favorite dishes was the cucumber. Then, Xu dashu made a phone call to a driver who is going to bring us to the Jingshanling (金山岭) Great Wall.
A 5-hour climb at the Great Wall was extremely exhausted. We then took our dinner, again prepared by Xu dama and went for bath. There was nothing to do much in a rural area but wandering around the village taking photographs. The farm village is quite rich in producing corns, sugar canes and peppers.
We slept early that night for recuperation. There was another climbing trip waiting for us on the next day morning. We supposed climbing up to the Gubeikou Wohushan (古北口卧虎山) Great Wall at 5:00a.m for breathtaking sunrise view. Due to tiredness, we decided to rest on bed for a longer time until 7:00a.m. The Great Wall can be easily seen from Xu dashu’s farmhouse. A couple of hours later, we left for Beijing.
Why you have to visit Hexi Village?
It is a 2000-year-old village located in Miyun (密云) County situated in northeast Beijing. If you wish to see the Great Wall in raw condition with no crowd and no rush, it is strongly recommended to pay a visit to the village and spend a night there. Xu dashu’s (徐大叔) farmhouse is famous but the only way to make reservation is through phone call.
How to get there?
Take bus 980 (fast) from Dongzhimen, Beijing and get off at Miyun Shaoniangong station. Walk straight until you can see the traffic light and take a right turn. You will then see a bus stop, in front of China Mobile Building, take bus 25 for Miyun (9:30a.m. bus will be great). Be patient to wait for the bus as it it not frequent. Tell the bus driver you are going to Hexi Cun (village). It is adviced to contact Xu dashu in advance so that he can wait for you at the entrance.
Xu dashu‘s mobile: 8105 1548
Price: we paid RMB100 for accommodation (1 night) and 3 meals
*Do not expect too much on the facilities part. You have to use the public toilet outside, which I felt not comfortable. Only bathing is allowed in the farmhouse.