After an overnight stay, Echo and I got up early and had breakfast before going to visit another one of China’s many UNESCO World Heritage Sites – The Summer Palace.
On this visit to China I arrived in Beijing and the sky was bluer than I have ever seen in the capital city. It has become my standard procedure to spend the night in a hotel and rest before traveling on to Jinan.
The flight from Newark is about 14 hours with additional time to get to the airport and on the destination end more time to get from airport to hotel and then train station. Due to the fact that I get very little sleep on the plane I think it best to have a one night lay-over. Waking and getting out for an early hike was a nice way to get the kink out of my neck.
A very reasonably priced restaurant chain that I really enjoy in Beijing is called Grandma’s Home. I especially like the oven roast chicken. That dish with rice and a vegetable is a great meal for two. Vivian first introduced me to this place a couple of years ago. Echo and I like going there. Be advised that there may be a wait to get a table if you come during the prime meal time….but that is a sure sign of a good place to eat!
It’s about a 1 hour taxi ride north of the city to visit this spectacular historic attraction. I was not able to get to the Summer Palace on several previous visits due to time constraints.
This trip I felt it was a must see, as I was coming to Beijing near summer. I am glad the weather wasn’t any warmer.
We arrived around 8:30 AM and started the climb up the many stairways and stone paths. There were no long lines for tickets or entry.
If you go I recommend getting their early to be ahead of the crowds. We visited on a Monday morning and this time of year is not quite the busy tourist season. And if you go in the warmer seasons, I also recommend wearing loose and comfortable clothing, because you will be climbing and descending a lot of stairs. This place is not for folks with any kind of mobility limitations. I struggled a bit more with the very steep stairs while descending, but I did manage to ascend to the top and descend to the shore of Kunming Lake without too much discomfort. I would not want to have to carry a small child on such steps and baby strollers would be utterly impractical. It is wise for trekkers of all ages and abilities to use the hand rails. These are stone stairways with narrow steps on long height. You really don’t want to fall.
I was exhausted by the end of the day.
The feat of building this place on such a dramatic slope is impressive in addition to the architecture itself. This fortress would be extremely difficult to assault.
Of course the history associated with the Summer Palace is quite interesting as well. Here is a Wikipedia link for some details. And follow this link to read more about The history of the Summer Palace.
And this link to read the UNESCO criteria for determining “Outstanding Universal Value”..
Here is a link to learn more about Buddhist symbols.
Story; “Don’t touch mine and I won’t touch yours!”
I am told that there is a legend associated with original site of the building. Apparently there was a graveyard that held one of the emperor’s favorite concubines. When the architects discovered her tomb they notice a message inscribed that said, ‘Don’t touch mine and I won’t touch yours.”
For the sake of not disturbing the dead, the original site was abandoned.
After about two hours of hiking up and over and then down to the lake shore, the tour buses were bringing in large crowds that made walking less enjoyable. Stop and go foot traffic is not fun for touring. We found our way to the exit and went back to the hotel to prepare for the train to Jinan.