As soon as the weather starts to get just a little cooler, rather than thoughts of leaves changing colors or pumpkins, my mind turns to BeiDaiHe. Literally, that means North Dai River and is pronounced "Bay-Die-Huh." It's a little resort town on the northern China coast.
We used to go there every fall with our team. The first year, I was amazed that there was such a place in China, where the skies were blue and the air fresh and they had TREES! The contrast to our home city was such that I fell in love with BeiDaiHe. If I had been living in Oregon or Washington at the time, then it wouldn't have made such an impression on me, I'm sure.
The accommodations were just average. The beds were hard, the toilet leaked, and the hot water was only turned on for a couple hours each morning and evening. But there was this amazing porch overlooking a restaurant and the ocean, and we could sit out there and play cards or read. And the beach came with cheap seats and umbrellas, and lovely, warm, soft sand. AND it was a private beach, so it wasn't crowded.
The food was good, too. We ate tons of shrimp and french fries for lunch and dinner, and egg and tomato with bing (like a burrito) for breakfast. We took walks to the nearby wholesale shopping mall and bought cheap pearls.
But the very best part was the team. Going on vacation with your team is a wonderful way to really get to know people. We had meetings and singing and team-building exercises (ok, so those weren't my fave, but they were fun anyway). There was a baptism in the ocean. It wasn't all perfect, but it was good. Really good.
The team is really what made the entire China experience bearable. I can't imagine being there alone, like so many of the early pioneers were. But even Eric Liddell sent his family to BeiDaiHe in the summer, to escape the oppressive heat of Tianjin! So we were in good company.
Sadly, I hear the team isn't going this year. What a shame.