Mini Tour in Beimen: Wild & Fun
Parent-child activities are always included in every i-tour’s well-planned mini tour. The schedule is always busy, as I have experienced since my first mini tour, but kids are so immersed in the activities every time that they never take out handheld devices to play during the trip.
This time, the “Mini Tour in Beimen: Wild & Fun” brought us directly back to the simple, natural summer experience in our childhood: exploring the ecology, going for a bike ride, and “smoldering” foods by building an earthen oven in the countryside. When we finished the journey at night, I still couldn’t tell if the laughter in my dreams belonged to the kids or to my younger self.
Exploring in Vanaheim
“Shuangchun Coastal Ecology Park”, the former name of Vanaheim, preserves a large extent of mangroves. Walking along the 1200-meter wooden path in the Park, we were able to observe the mangrove ecology closely. Occasionally, you may be surprised to spot some tiny animals living in tidal flats, but please don’t disturb these residents when passing by.
The wooden path was like a labyrinth, and we never knew what surprise we might encounter at the exit. The trees on both sides of the path constitute an attractive scene of wonderland, which could be a perfect spot for wedding photography, but don’t forget to prepare mosquito repellents since biting midges are not romantic at all.
We could find out the propagules of stilted mangrove everywhere. The long and thin propagules are responsible for reproduction. If the propagules detach from the tree and fall straight into the soil, they can grow their roots and leaves; otherwise, they will float on the water and grow elsewhere.
These long and thin propagules amazed the kids. They started competing with each other to see who could gather the most; no matter what the result of the competition was, they ended up getting a lot in their hands when coming back. Please be careful not to pull out the fruits from the trees or the water; there are plenty of them already dried on the land.
Smoldering Foods by Building Earthen Ovens & Bicycle Tour in Beimen
Leaving Vanaheim, we moved on to a small village in Beimen to prepare for today’s dinner. It was not dark yet, but it would take a very long time to build an earthen oven and cook the meal. Actually, I visited Beimen when I was a senior high school student, and I could still recognize my classmate’s home; it was beside the open ground where we were going to build the earthen oven. More than ten years had passed, and the village was still as simple and quiet as before.
To successfully prepare earthen oven dishes, we needed to build an earthen oven well for sure (Well, it’s really redundant for me to say this!).
To build an earthen oven, we stacked up dirt clods first, with bigger ones put on the bottom and smaller ones on the top. The joint of the top was the toughest part of the task, so we finally handed it over to the owner, who was good at it. Kids were glad to help the owner build the oven. Compared with the adults who sat aside and did nothing, the children were really enthusiastic about learning this procedure!
After we finished the earthen oven, we put dried branches into the oven to light up the fire. To perfectly burn the dirt clods completely red, we had to check constantly to see if the fire was big enough. While we were waiting, the owner brought food and a barrel of dirt for us to wrap eggs, sweet potatoes, chicken, and milkfish sausage in the dirt so that the foods could be heated evenly, and be prevented from being overcooked or undercooked.
A girl dressed in fluorescent color was earnest in helping us wrap all the eggs in dirt. You can see all the wrapped foods in the picture below. It brings to your mind the experience of playing with mud long time ago, doesn’t it?
After about an hour had passed, when the oven had turned red, we moved the wood fire aside, broke a hole in the oven, carefully put the food into the oven, toppled the dirt clods over, and then covered the entire oven with dirt to “smolder” the foods with the remaining heat.
The owner told us that it took one to two hours for the foods to be ready, so we took a bike ride around the village during the sunset.
Although Crystal Church has turned Beimen into a hot spot in recent years, we discovered that Beimen itself could give us much more precious traveling experience than the Crystal Church. Riding and walking slowly, we could see the most attractive scenery of the coastal village before sunset.
We took a picture of the Crystal Church anyway. We were not allowed to get closer to the Church, and we didn’t know the reason. Eventually, we managed to find the best spot to take a full shot of the Church. Places not captured in the picture were actually crowded with tourists: there were so many people attracted by the Church, even on weekdays.
Nightfall was coming, and the beauty of the village’s quietness emerged little by little. The twilight shone on the sea, the roads and the salt fields. Riding on the sea wall with eyes closed, we hoped that time could stand still that way.
Perhaps it’s not amazing to most of you, but my favorite part was the watercourse where bamboo rafts were berthed. The bamboo rafts mooring tidily on both sides signified that the residents of the fishing village “work when sunrise, and rest when sunset”. Maybe we should not have disturbed the residents at this moment so that they could get a good rest.
The blue one which kids were revolving with curiosity was a check valve. It could control the water flow when flooding; so don’t turn it to the wrong side, or the entire neighborhood will get flooded!
When the light of the setting sun shone on oyster farms, we couldn’t think of anywhere else around the world that was more beautiful than Beimen at this moment. Let’s forget worries for a while and enjoy the rare moment! I couldn’t stop taking pictures, and I accidentally captured a diligent elderly man, who was still working with his upper body bare. It’s getting dark, old fellow! Time to go home and have dinner!
And now we are going to enjoy our earthen oven feast. Beimen, see you next time!