The Great Outdoors

‘Camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business’ – Dave Barry.
It has recently been a national holiday in China – for China’s birthday – so I have had the luxury of a full week off work. (Though due to this, it’s compulsory to work the weekend meaning a 7-day working week – it’s China, I’ve learnt not to question it). After spending the first half of the week drinking and sleeping, my friends and I decide to holiday in the cheapest way we knew how – camping! I soon found myself in the nearest Decathlon purchasing a two-man tent and sleeping bag along with various snacks, beers, warm clothing and a backpack. The eight of us – all whom I have met at the company I work for – hired a driver and armed with tents, yoga mats (why buy a sleeping mat?) and more alcohol than food, made the two hour trip north-east of Beijing.It was an absolute treat to be in fresh air (well, fresh for Beijing) surrounded by looming mountains and the sound of the gushing river. As much as I enjoy city life, I did not realise how much I miss greenery and nature generally until I was fully immersed in it. On arrival we set up base next to the river and under the trees (rain was expected), cracked open the beers and the males – typically – collected wood to start the fire. As we sat at dusk, gathered round our self-made fire and eating chicken with chopsticks straight from the frying pan, I have never felt more fortunate. Whilst I do appreciate a lush hotel, I would still take a night in a tent by a fire with nothing but the sound of water and birds. I’m slowly coming to realise I’m not a city girl, in the future I belong in the countryside.The second day consisted of a late start, late Chinese based breakfast and wet walk around the landscape. By afternoon the rain was falling heavily and persisted all night however we were still having the time of our lives, eating and drinking at the nearby guesthouse before a mad midnight dash through the rain into our tents. I have never fully appreciated the part my dad played in all our family camping trips until out last day when we had to pack up in the rain and mud. I’m still avoiding washing my tent! Despite the rain and the cold – I could have been in Britain – I loved our camping trip and now we are all own tents we plan to make a repeat trip. There really is nothing better than the ‘great outdoors’.

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