On Friday, Michael had the morning off but would need to be back by noon so we wanted to explore someplace that was fairly close. We chose the Summer Palace and were told that we should leave by 7:00am to avoid the traffic. One of the professors was scheduled to go with us, but he kindly demurred, saying that he figured we would enjoy some time by ourselves!! He did, however, provide a car to drive us there!!!
The Summer Palace was built in 1750 and acted as the temporary palace of the Qing Dynasty. It was burned down in 1860 by the Anglo-French Forces (as was much of Beijing, particularly the cultural areas), and rebuilt in 1888. The property consists of 300 hectares (750 acres), much of which is covered by a huge lake. It is called the “Summer Palace” because the Emperors would move there during the hot, sweltering summer days, seeking the cooler temperatures found at a bit higher elevation.
When we first arrived, we were bombarded by tour groups (mostly kids) waiting in the front courtyard. After Michael bought our tickets we thought that we would have to wait until all of the tour groups went thru, but we were motioned on by one of the guards and taken thru a different gate.
When we entered the palace grounds, we were met with carefully manicured green areas, gorgeous landscaping and MILES of tranquil paths winding their way thru the garden. Since it was early in the morning and we were relatively rested we decided to take the “hilly” road and head upward…..
We passed thru “Hobbit” holes…..
….and narrow passageways between the buildings…..
As we walked we would run across small groups of people dancing…..
….or doing their morning exercise…..
This lady was the most amazing, keeping the balls balanced on the racquet while she danced…..
We laughed at these hats featuring the “Marlboro” logo…..or is it the Mar–i-boro logo…..
This entrance was one of the more interesting ones……
When we had first entered the Palace grounds, the “Hall of Benevolence and Longevity” had been closed but we figured that it would be open by the time we got ready to leave. We sat for a few minutes with all of the others milling around the square in front of the building……
After a few minutes of waiting, we realized that the building being opened simply meant that the doors were open so that people could see in!!! We had a peak in and then made our exit back to the hotel.
That afternoon, Michael gave his public lecture which was well attended……
We had one last banquet to end our visit in Beijing, featuring EIGHTEEN dishes followed by two types of dumplings and fruit. My favorite of the evening were these “drumsticks” formed from chopped lobster…..
My ‘not-favorite” was a bean porridge that tasted like sweetened Black-eyed Peas……
I loved looking across the table and seeing the variety of platters and bowls that were used to present the dishes…..
It was a fun way to end our time in Beijing!!!
And, before we go, here is the carpet from the hotel…..