The fog that covered the city notwithstanding, we decided to carry on with our plans to visit Black Stone Village (黑石头村), a village just outside Beijing, to the West. We had seen some pictures in a book called "Encounters with Ancient Beijing", and the author described it as well preserved stone village.
Well, things in China change. A lot. Very quickly. The author last visited the village in 2003. Four years later, we found that China's development reached even that quaint corner: the "village" had grown considerably, and practically all the old stone houses were under renovation, with piles and piles of bricks covering what must have been very nice sights.
We did manage to find an abandoned house (or temple?) atop a hill, which provided all the charm we needed for the trip. It's a cool thing people are having money to replace old houses with newer and better ones, and it's really selfish to want people to keep living in precarious conditions just so we can take quaint pictures, but nevertheless I admit we were just a bit disappointed not to find a secluded, old, black stone village.