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Bashang: Beautiful Grassland

Bashang is the nearest grassland area to Beijing. It is a place where tourists can view sunrise and sunset on the prairie. When night falls, tourists can sing and dance around a bonfire.

Bashang, located in Fengning County, Hebei Province, consists of three parts: Baxia, Jieba and Bashang. In summer the weather is cool. One ca see wild flowers everywhere, and in winter, the area is covered with snow.

A few years ago, foreigners were forbidden to enter Bashang, because it contains military installations. But recently the numbers of both Chinese and foreign visitors have been increasing year after year, reaching a daily flow of 3,000 visitors now. During the busy season, form May to October, it receives at least 4,000 visitors a day.

Bashang, bordering on the Inner Mongolia Plateau and located at the foot of the Yanshan Mountains, is four kilometers north of Datan and 87 km northwest of the county seat of Fengning. Since ancient times it has been a pasture for Mongolian herders. Fengning is rich in grassland resources, with 7.62 million mu (one mu is equivalent to 0.067 hectare) of pasture land, including 600,000 mu of artificial pastures and fenced pastures.

Seen form afar on the Bashang grassland, white Mongolian yurts look like pearls on a green jadeite plate. The eight colored banners of the Manchus flap in the wind. The roods of some Mongolian yurts are decorated with blue designs, andthe dome-shaped yurts are milky white. On the red doors there are patterns of dragons and phoenixes, symbolizing auspiciousness and happiness. Inside the yurts there are pillars carved with dragon designs. Also, there are bright lanterns and red carpets, just as were used by the early Qing emperors.

Here, tourists can don Mongolian costumes to have photos taken on the grassland, or they can ride horses or imitate Manchu and Mongolian warriors by shooting arrows. They can also ride camels or just stroll on the grassland.

Visiting the 10,000-mu forest on Mount Pingding is a must for tourists. The peak is 1,834 m above sea level, but on the summit there is a piece of flat land. Tourists can tour the forest along the winding mountain highway by motor vehicle to reach the summit. Here one can see pigeons hovering in groups. Below the halfway point on the slopes of the mountain there are 30,000 mu of conifer-broadleaf mixed forest, including black pine, larch, poplar, white birch, and shrubs; and above the halfway point there are 30-year-old black pines, larches and dragon spruces.

At Bashang, tourists can visit herders' homes and talk with the local people, taste local food and appreciate the folklore of the grassland.

Besides the beautiful landscape, the local food is also attractive. At Bashang, tourists can taste a local snack called youmian wozi (rolls made of oat flour). They are rolled by hand, and steamed in a steamer. Then mushroom or mutton soup is poured over them. Another local specialty is youmian danbing (oat flour pancakes). Boiling water is poured on the flour, which is then kneaded into dough, rolled into a very thin pancake, baked in a wok, and then stuffed with bean sprouts stir-fried with pork, or Chinese scallions and thick sauce made from soya beans, flour, etc. Baked cakes made from broom corn flour are also local delicacies. Broom corn flour is allowed to ferment, then baked in a wok until it turns golden-yellow.

Potato kuli is another specialty of Bashang. Potatoes are steamed, mashed, mixed with oat flour, and then stir-fried on a low fire using the local sesame seed oil.

Historically Bashang has been inhabited by Mongolians, so the local cuisine emphasizes Manchu and Mongolian flavors. To welcome guests, herders slaughter goats, and roast their internal organs on charcoal. The result is meat crispy outside and tender inside. Cubes of mutton are also boiled with seasoning and eaten with the fingers. After eating the meat, don't forget to drink a bowl of soup made from chopped entrails.

Local traditional crafts include papercuts in the shapes of flowers, birds, fish, insects, figures from traditional dramas, and animals. There is also a kind of applique work, made into domestic pictures, bric-a-brac, and niches for statues of Buddha. Embroidery is also popular, including shoes and caps with animal designs, pouches, sewing kits, aprons, perfume bags, and pillows.

materials provided by "Travel China weekly newspaper"
written by Gao Yanfang

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