Quilts and Other Stuff from Frances

The Summer Palace

On Monday, we left Kunming in the wee hours of the morning and flew to Beijing where we were met by 2 Graduate Students from the  Beijing Institute of  Botany.  They escorted us to our hotel which was located in the Northwest part of the city and not far from the BIB and also the Beijing Botanical Garden (this bit of information will be important tomorrow).

The hotel seems to be  more of a convention center,  but the rooms are clean, the  bathroom has a tub AND shower and the air conditioner works so life is good!!!    Because it is not a tourist hotel, there is very little English spoken so we are once again resorting to pointing and smiling!!!!

Michael’s host, Xiao-Ru picked us up and took us to her office in the Botany Institute and she and Michael spent some time talking about her research.  We were given a short tour of the facility, including posters featuring each of the Primary investigators in the institute and telling about the work that they were doing.  It was a great way to promote the work and people.

We left the institute about 5:00 and drove to the Summer Palace which is also located in the Northwest part of the city. 

Now, one of the first things that we noticed was the intense smog in the city.  The sky looked as if there was a heavy fog just below the horizon and the sun was only a light spot.  We were told that the Summer Palace was built because the air quality was so much better!!!   Michael and I both looked at each other and laughed and then realized that this palace was built in 1750 and there probably wasn’t a lot of smog back then!!!!!

It was built as a temporary palace and imperial garden of the Qing Dynasty.  In 1860 the Palace was burned down by Anglo-French forces and was rebuilt in 1888.

By the time we got there, it was too late to get into the palace itself, but we spent an enjoyable 2 hours walking around the grounds.  75% of the Palace is made up of two lakes and the walks surrounding them are gorgeous……except for the smog!!

Here is a view of the palace from across the lake……


This Bronze Ox was erected in 1736 and is thought to help control the floods on the lake……_6204214

This bridge is called the “Seventeen Arch Bridge”and was built in 1750……


Across the span of the bridge there are 500 lions carved in different poses……_6204218 

I loved the extent that they had gone to save this tree.  There was an entire metal structure built to support each branch……


Some of the areas were quite rugged with the buildings seeming to rise out of the stones……_6204234


I love the stone sculptures that adorn the corners of the houses……


And the colors and designs in the buildings are gorgeous as well…..


I took this photo to give you some idea of the smog.  You can barely see the mountains off to the right, you cannot see the sun at all but can see it’s reflection in the water……


This is one of the many gates that we passed thru on our walk……_6204269

Here is the actual palace that we did not go into.  Personally I am glad that we didn’t have to walk up all of those steps……_6204289

Now, for me, comes the really interesting part of this palace.   While Michael and Xaio-Ru strolled along and droned on and on about science, I (as usual) had my head down looking at the floor.  AND, guess what I found……..drum roll here…._6204294 …..QUILTING designs!!!!   Can you see them???


In each of the stone paths, there were larger stones placed in various designs.  They were difficult to see, but I had a great time looking at them and trying to burn them into my memory.

To help you visualize them, I used Photoshop and added the somewhat shaky lines to show a couple of the designs….


I also have NUMEROUS photos of my toes…..


We left the palace and headed back to our hotel, but first stopped for dinner at a WONDERFUL restaurant.

Xiao-Ru  was given the menu, which was a HUGE bound book with page after page of delicious treats.   She studied it for about 10 minutes before she made our choices……IMG_0344

Our drink of choice was Tsingtao beer, but the bottles were completely different from the ones in Kunming…..


We started off with cold chicken that had been boiled in salty water…..


Next came this treat that looks like a sweet……IMG_0348

…..but is in fact made of slabs of cold yam, topped with pureed green beans and a pimento.!!!

My favorite for the evening was this spicy lamb.  It was tasty and beautiful as well.   I just loved how they presented the dishes……



This was a Goose Liver Pate and was probably our least favorite, but once again, how can you say no to something that looks so good!!!!!IMG_0351

This dish is made of cucumber slices with eggplant……IMG_0353

….and finally, tofu “pockets” served with a green vegetable of some sort.   Look how they used a stem of the green vegie to “tie up” the little bun……IMG_0354 

We returned to the hotel and had a wonderful, restful night sleep in a bed that was soft, in a room that was quiet and with an air conditioner that kept the temperature at the perfect condition!!!!

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