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May 09

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The Summer Palace

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!

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At the pinnacle of Longevity Hill sits this temple surrounded by gardens and courtyards that descend all the way down the other side to the lake.

 

 

Dragons are a standard decoration in ancient Chinese architecture.
It is interesting they represent the good in Eastern culture – protectors warding off evil spirits. In contrast to Western folklore where dragons are depicted as evil marauding and destructive monsters.

I think we entered through the North Gate and began the climb up to the top.

 

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.

 

I was unable to confirm the meaning of this symbol, but I seem to recall reading that the flame represents the sun, the ball in the middle is the earth and the crescent below is the moon. Hence the concept of China as the “Middle Kingdom”.

This depiction of the Buddha was one of many that adorned several walls on the outside of one of the temples.

 

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.

This picture is just one example of the stairs. All of the stairways were steep!

As you see from the blue sky the weather was fantastic! The top of the mountain offered panoramic views of the hills north of Beijing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Over the crest of the peak the view of Kunming Lake.

Descending the lake side of Longevity Hill the small gazebos and pagodas are intricately nestled into the steep, rocky hillside.

The location, design and layout of the palace is magnificently secure. Towers at the peak of the mountain provide views for extreme distances. Additionally, these watchtowers were defensible when occupied by skilled archers….archers with an up-hill advantage.

 

The buildings where the emperor’s concubines lived were located on the lake side of the fortress. The entire facility is riddled with a myriad of alleyways between buildings and courtyards intertwined with gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Permanent link to this article: http://english-speak-english.com/the-summer-palace/

4 comments

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  1. Summer

    The Summer Palace is one of the many place where the emperors lived. I have been there once and was so impressed how big it is. I am also impressed with the magnificent planning to build this place.

    It is so important to protect monuments and places of interest. As The Summer Palace is well preserved, we can learn more about the history, we can compare with other countries architecture. I hope it will always be there.

    1. Teacher Kevin

      History and culture are certainly worthy of preservation for future study. China has many of these UNESCO sites. I hope to check off a few more as I travel deeper into your country!

  2. Morning

    Beijing, as a famous cultural city. You can always find something interesting on every visit.
    The summer palace is the most complete royal palace in the world, it is well known as the”royal garden museum”.
    It is the symbolic of the era of QING Dynasty’s history、economy、culture、architecture and other aspects.
    Thanks for the very rare blue sky and for letting us have the fortune to enjoy so many amazing photos!

    1. Teacher Kevin

      It really is an amazing place to see and we were certainly blessed with the good weather. The bluest sky I have ever seen in Beijing!

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