Mentougou District: Smiles in courtyards!

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By Talibeh Hydara

There are 16 districts in Beijing. We’ve visited more than half of them already. Each district prides itself on something unique. From the cultivation of peach in the valleys of Pinggu to the cradle of knowledge in Haidian, there are both collective and, to some extent, individual district visions which have made Beijing so holistically developed. The city is synched! 

Earlier this month, we’ve visited Mentougou, a mountainous district that lies in the Western Hills of Beijing, a treasure trove of stunning peaks and historical sites. But Mentougou is much more than just peaks, pearl lakes and temples; its creativity with ecology and restoration of court yards into splendid guest houses made this small district a sight to behold for both locals and tourists. 

Lush mountains? Boutique Guesthouses 


Nearly 20 years ago, Xi Jinping visited Yucun village in Anji, Huzhou city. Yucun decided to close mines that polluted the environment and adopted ecological tourism by taking advantage of natural scenic views. Therein, an impressed Xi Jinping expressed few words that would go on to define China’s drive to put ecology at par with other sectors of development. His words “…clear waters and lush mountains themselves mean gold” have inspired different cities and districts to reevaluate the importance of environment in human development. 

The “Two Mountains” theory also inspired Mentougou district with the Boutique Guesthouses becoming a symbol of green development across the city. Named Mentougou Courtyard, the district has built rural boutique guest houses in the mountainous areas. The ecological area has been transformed into a high-end leisure spot, green and beautiful, with 96 boutique guest houses in 57 villages. The district has also restored over 347 courtyards, of which 295 are in operation with 993 rooms, 1863 beds. A staggering 120,000 guests registered at the leisure spot in 2022, accruing nearly 58 million yuan in revenue.

The area is epic in all facets; green, mountainous, quiet, and beautiful. As quick as our visit was, we took some time to even play football and basketball. To cap things off, we managed to take the best group picture since our arrival in China. Usually, when we take group pictures, some will genuinely smile, some will genuinely frown, some will be stuck between smile and frown and their faces will form weird creatures, and others just don’t bother. But, somehow, this group picture was different. I don’t know whether it is because the camera guys climbed a stair and shot from there or the Boutique Guesthouses just sparked joy in us. 


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Initially used as a kiln factory of the imperial palace through the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties spanning over 700 years, Jinyu Colored-glaze Cultural and Creative Industrial Park now presents the rich business modes of the intangible cultural heritage of glaze firing techniques, including its inheritance, research and development, promotion, exhibition and display, study and experience. It was designated for inheriting and promoting national intangible heritage in 2008. The park now has a wealth of colored-glaze culture, preserving ancient glazed-firing techniques and achieving carbon neutrality. 

With its rich history dating back to 1263, the Park has become an irresistibleattraction for tourists and a reliable sitefor protecting and revitalizing intangible heritages. 

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Mentougou, like almost all the districts I visited, is equally involved in high-tech. Take the Beijing Jingdiao for example, a private enterprise focusing on the research and development, production and application of precision CNC machine tools. Precision machining involves shaping raw material into a finished product using computer programs with exact specifications. Founded almost three decades ago, Beijing Jingdiao is one of the first national certificated high-tech enterprises, boasting of more than 5,000 employees and more than 900 R&D personnel.

On the watchful eyes of a skilled machinist, we stared as temples and words are designed on eggs. I went home with one designed egg, packaged like a birthday gift and placed on my desk at DRC. I don’t know if I will find it hatched or spoilt. If I find it intact, I am going to eat it.

A special mention about one of Mentougou’s business circles, Tangu, which offers immersive experience scenes. The circle plans to create a new lifestyle where people can work, learn, live and have fun without leaving the circle by relying on the nearby scenic spots including Jietai and Tanzhe temples.

Taiping drum 

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The Mentougou trip climaxed with a beautiful Taiping drum, a lovely folk dance common in the district and dates back to 770 BC, gaining popularity during the Qing Dynasty. 

The dance was originally used in rituals to dispel evil spirits and pray for good fortune. 

Beautiful and handsome young people lined up, dressed in traditional costumesand performed the Taiping drum for us. The dance ushers in the new year and says goodbye to the old year, with people hoping for peace. It wasn’t a new year but we all hoped it brings blessings.

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The locals also exhibited products to us before we hoped on the bus. While some returned to childhood by enjoying the curved slides and swings, I got myself busy helping a Chinese soap seller market his products to my colleagues. I took over his business like I owned it. All I needed to know was that the soap was made from rose petals and the price. I managed to sell to a few people and bought it myself on discount. The soap smells divine! He said I’d make a good salesman. I might be in the wrong field. 

Mentougou is beautiful. I feel there is more to it than time allowed us to see. I would love to visit again and see the temples.