Fragrance Hill is famous for its color changing maple leaves in the autumn. Well, its summer so I had to settled for just green. Fragrance Hill is actually quite far away from Beijing’s city center so Jordan, Staci, Nathalie, and I rode the bus for approximately an hour and a half (we stood for the first half and jostled our way through people to get seats each time the bus stopped). We naturally got slightly lost once we arrived due to the combination of China’s lack of road signs and Google Map’s notorious unreliability. Fortunately, we know how to say/read Fragrance Hill in Chinese to we ended up following signs to the right place.
You have the option to climb up the hill (which is more like a mountain) along a staircase or take the cable car ride for ¥60. Well, cable cars are fun so we splurged for the ride. To board the cable car, you stand in front of the seat which is continuously moving so you just get scooped up (I currently have bruises on the back on my calves from said scooping. I looked abused). The whole way up (it was about 10-15 minutes), I marveled at the scenery and snapped pictures of the poor blokes climbing up the stairs while congratulating myself for taking the cable car.
After a beautiful round of “Defying Gravity” (Glee Cast Version) by Jordan and me, we reached the top and were told to get off (the cars never stopped…it was difficult). From there, we walked around the top of the hill, took our picture with random Chinese people, and snapped shots of the gloriously hazy metropolitan Beijing (you can kind of make out the old CCTV Tower). When we decided to head back down, we walked back to the cable cars where we were quickly informed that our tickets were good for one way and that we’d have to pay ¥50 more to go back down. Being the cheap college students we are we chose to take the staircase back down. Just to describe our current states, we are all in flip flops, Jordan and Staci are in dresses, and my hair was looking fantastic (The first time in a few days. Humidity). Also, this staircase is made of smooth stone steps. Needless to say, a few skids and me falling down (I was singing Pocahontas. Apparently I can’t sing and climb down at the same time) led to all the flip flops coming off and us trekking down the mountain barefoot (it wasn’t even One Day Without Shoes. TOMS Shoes would be so proud). We got a few crazy looks but honestly, I doubt my face was any different when they decided to flash their bellies. Anyways, climbing up stairs is the worst. Climbing downstairs is the second worst. Anytime we’d pause for a break our legs with shake violently so the only solution was to keep climbing down these endless steps until we finally reached the bottom. After a few false alarms (it really did look like it was going to end after only 10 minutes down. That wasn’t right at all), our bare feet touched gloriously level ground and basked in the feeling of shoes again. From there we had lunch at a restaurant within the park, which was actually only the second (third if you count the street food breakfast) time I ate Chinese food outside of campus. We cleaned our feet with the Wet Ones that came with the chopsticks; it was gross but it had to be done (sorry, restaurant). Then, we all shared fried rice, veggie dumplings, and a shrimp and cucumber dish, which was the perfect amount even though the waitress thought it’d be best to serve us 2 plate of dumplings (we had her take the extra one back. 2 plates is like 60 dumplings). From there, the day pretty much wrapped up; unless you count the ice cream cones (freshly scooped) we got off the street and a 20 minute trip to the mediocre Beijing Botanical Garden (the large amount of roses a few feet away from a water fountain play area where tents were set up was just so confusing). So we boarded the bus, and headed back to our most favorite place in Beijing…