Chengde, or, The City of Smog and Rain

Chengde streches out along both banks of the Rèhé, bleak, grey, drizzled with sulphuric acid rain and the smoky vapors of Dragon Boat Festival pyrotechnics. Ambling along its tight streets it was clear that the place was unused to lǎowài (foreigners) with no chinese language ability to speak of. While the hills surrounding the narrow river valley lent the ‘small’ city some charm, they were literally invisible for almost the entirety of the trip.