Wednesday 13th July
Correction on yesterday’s promise of today. Turns out it was the Summer Palace, not just some park round the corner. (Chinese can be very vague sometimes.)
My lesser other half (LOH) once again slept like a baby, whilst I woke up at five and just couldn’t get back to bed. Local time.
We had breakfast, a combination of eggs, the food from Paris Baguette and Yakult. My LOH had some sort of porridge. Yum?
We drove through the mountains into the city – which I must remember to actually stay awake to see when we pass tomorrow – where we promptly picked up my brother and father before going down a straight path to the Summer Palace. It’s only ten minutes away, so it wasn’t a very long journey. It was only ten-ish but it was a good day for Beijing, clear skies (if you can call a dusty, polluted greyish haze a clear sky), and there was nowhere to hide from the piercing sun. The temperature had risen by ten degrees in the thirty minutes it had taken us to get to the flat in Beijing. I was wearing my pink sun hat; only con-it was way too big for me and ended up with me falling down stairs and walking into poles amongst all sorts. Sort of like Sophia on a good day.
Seventeen-arched bridge. Beautiful, although perhaps unnecessary?
The Summer Palace was what you would expect: busy, crowded yet somehow quite serene, although the heat didn’t help much; it was terrifying to imagine how the many Empresses and Emperors would have survived the heat in their long thick silk gowns and headdresses; admittedly, it would have been a lot cooler (and thus nicer) back then. The massive man-made lake glistened in the heat, rippling from both the heat and the huge abundance of peddle boats and carriers crossing the water.
Summer Palace in the background, as well as one of the dragon-themed boats carrying passengers across the artificially made lake.
We visited the island in the centre of the lake, before proceeding round to do a half-circle. There’s a good deal of climbing nearing the actual palace, and the massive size of the steps didn’t help. The Suzhou Street, meant to recreate it’s Southern city counterpart, was possibly the highlight amidst all the high pagoda’s and seventeen-arched bridges. A light breeze went past us as we walked by a calm river, over typical wooden bridges and shops of the time, with the gentle noise of a pan flute playing in the distance. Suddenly the heat was mildly bearable.
A stone boat. Ingenious!
After a good deal of walking in the sweltering sun we got a taxi out of the Summer Palace to Shi Ji Jin Yuan, one of the largest shopping malls in Beijing. We ate at Jin Ding Xuen, a 24-hour dim sum restaurant which I adore, mainly because it’s probably one of the few places that actually serves dim sum, and pretty well at that.
My LOH has one skill that is greater than mine-that is to say sports, swimming in particular. We went to the local swimming pool, a terrifyingly long 50m (which I have never swam before) which my friend aced like a boss and I couldn’t get to halfway with. Afterwards for some reason I threw up again, for reasons I can’t possibly say. Oh, and everyone was walking round naked. Huzzah.
Next up: a palace, lots of heat and fans. Maybe.