Oguzhan Yurteri and his wife from Turkey enjoy their time under the sun, raking the top soil in an agricultural plot in Gubeikou village, Miyun district.
Oguzhan Yurteri was all smiles as he wiped the sweat off his brow. He had just finished playing the role of an ox, pulling the blade of a plow across the wet, black alluvial soil with his wife also lending a helping hand.
For the Yurteris, who work in the Culture and Information Section of the Turkish Embassy in Beijing, this day on the farm was like a renewal of their marriage vows, which they took several years ago, pledging to support and care for each other.
They tilled the good earth, planted watermelon seeds, raked the topsoil, and hand-in-hand, wished their hosts a happy harvest for the next season.
The local farmers cheered playfully, mildly entertained by the honorary Beijingers' struggle with such primitive tools.
The Yurteris were among an assortment of expats from different corners of the world and now living in Beijing, who met on a green patch in Gubeikou village in Miyun district.
Cradled between the imposing heights of the Simatai section of the Great Wall and the calm and shallow Haihe River, the two villages of Wubeikou and Gubeikou are pastoral sites, where time-tested methods of farming are still practiced.
Thanks to an initiative by Miyun Tourism, the expat families, more used to having skyscrapers and electronic billboards dominating their line of vision, had the opportunity to step beyond the city limits and sample the nuances of farm life.
One of the first counties to pull up its act, in the wake of China's fast-track modernization process, around 2000, Miyun is the site of one of Beijing's two main water reservoirs.
A largish abstract sculpture attracts the eye as one enters Gubeikou, a shiny brass plaque underneath announcing its winning the "Best Village in Miyun County Award". The mood is upbeat around here.
"We have an easy life here," says Qi Fushun, a farmer whose family has been living in the village for generations.
His children have fancy jobs in Beijing but Qi, who is holding down two jobs as peasant and tourism host, would not think of moving out of the village even in a distant dream.