We hired a taxi driver to take us to Jinshanling, a part of the Great Wall about 3 hours from Beijing. We left at 8am this morning. It was snowing and our driver had never made the trek -- we stopped for directions more than once! Our driver told us he came from a village not far from there so, on our way back, we asked him if he'd like to stop by his town. He showed us the house he used to live in before he moved to Beijing.
Caroline met me at the airport last night. We had Chuan (meat on a stick) with Chiba (her Japanese friend) at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a tiny alleyway. This morning, after buying a scarf, a hat, gloves and long underwear (I am an XXL in China), I went for a walk in the Back Lakes district, not far from my room at Beijing Normal University.
In the heart of the city, many people still look as though they are living in the countryside.