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Summer Palace

Beijing Travel Blog

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Near the North Entrance to the Summer Palace. Behind me are steps leading to "Four Great Regions", A Tibetan style temple complex.

We got up fairly early today, as we have a big itinerary planned!   In addition to the Summer Palace, (A must-see location when in Beijing)  we also wanted to see the Beijing Zoo, and the Llama Temple.   We did NOT want to take a guided tour (especially after only getting an hour and a half on the Great Wall yesterday)    but we were worried about getting reliable taxi transportation to and from the various locations...especially considering our previous experience trying to get back from the Temple of Heaven!  We decided to rent a car and driver for the day...between the 4 of us, it wasn't that much more than several taxi rides would be, but we had the peace of mind of being able to come and go as we pleased, and spend as much time at a place as we liked.

Panda Exhibit, Beijing Zoo
  We figured having our own driver for the day was well worth it, especially on our last day here!   The concierge had set it up for us the night before, and the driver met us right on time in the hotel lobby!    He didn't speak any English, but the concierge told him what are plans were, and off we went.  First stop, Summer Palace!

The four of us piled into a black Audi (Lee sat in front)  and it was a little cramped, but we all felt it was much better than a bus tour!  We now had the freedom to come and go where and when we pleased, as this guy was ours for the day!  It didn't seem to take long at all to get to the Summer Palace... our driver parked in the McDonalds parking lot across the street from the North Entrance, then settled in for a nap while we went exploring!   It was comforting to know he would be here when we got back,  and we wouldn't have to waste half the day dealing with taxis.

Another photo "altered" by Roger (X-drive) ...the David Copperfield of travel photos- he makes all other tourists disappear!
  I wish we had done this the day we went to the Great Wall!

We walked in through the North Palace Gate, which is a two-storeyed gate where Emperor Qianlong's mother used to come watch the cavalry excercises of the Vanguard Battalion stationed outside the gate.  It is also known as the Military Review Tower.  From the North Gate, we walked straight ahead to "SuZhou Market Street"    It was modeled after the town of SuZhou in South China, known as "The Venice of the East"    This area served as an entertainment place where Emperors and their concubines could feel as if they were strolling along a commercial street, like the world outside.

Panda in the "yard"
..where they rarely actually ventured!  When the royals went there, maids and eunuchs would play-act as peddlers, customers and shop assistants  to mimic real-life market activities!  Anything to let the royals try to feel "normal", I guess!  The bridges were tall enough to let "gondolas" pass under them...in fact, we saw a guy poling his way along as we crossed over the bridge!   The shops that we see here today, however, are not original.  The SuZhou Street market shops were first built in the 1700's,  during the reign of Emperor Qianlong.  They were burned and destroyed by the Anglo-French allied forces in 1860.  They weren't rebuilt until 1986, over a hundred years later!  The store clerks are typically dressed in Qing Dynasty costumes.
Entering the Summer Palace at the North Palace Gate

After crossing the bridge, we climbed up many steps to enter the "Four Great Regions", a Tibetan style temple built on and into the hillside.  Many of these buildings were also damaged or destroyed in the war of 1860, and renovated not long ago.  Passing through the Temple and rock gardens to the top of Longevity Hill, you come across DuoBao Glazed Pagoda, a Buddhist Temple glazed in green and yellow tiles, many depicting the Buddha.  Many of the Buddha tiles within easy reach have the head of the Bhudda chopped off- a legacy of the Cultural Revolution!  

From the top of Longevity Hill, you also have great views of the Lake, and also the "Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha" also known as the  "Pavilion of the Buddhist Fragrance".

The tiger kept pacing in his tiny cage
  It seems to be one of the largest buildings here in the complex, so we headed there next! It was somewhere around here that Dave got separated from the rest of us.  The tower (or pavillion) is a three story octagonal structure with four tiers of eaves, an example of fine Chinese architecture. It, along with "Cloud Dispelling Hall", takes up most of the south side of Longevity Hill.  41 meters tall and  built on a base of carved marble, and surrounded by a terrace with marble railings, these large ornate buildings were where emperors and empresses received congratulations at their birthday ceremonies.

We toured around the Pavilion, taking many pictures of course, although we were not allowed to take pictures inside.   Because it is a place of worship, and those that were not tourists were actively praying inside, we respected the signs restricting photography inside the Tower itself.

SuZhou Street shops along the canal
  (I wish I could say that everyone was similerly respectful, but that was not the case!)  When we finished our walk around the Tower, we were ready to continue our tour down to the lake...but we were still a man short!   Not wanting to go too much further into this huge complex with one of us missing, we wanted to find Dave before we continued on.  Doug volunteered to go back to the Four Great Regions Temple area to look for him, while Lee and I stayed behind at the base of the huge stone staircases, figuring if Dave came this way before Doug found him, he wouldn't miss us.  No man left behind!!

We waited about 10 minutes there, studying our maps and figuring out what we wanted to do next, when we saw a Yankee cap bobbing up and down on the stairwell.

The elephant too...I thought the enclosures were too small
..when it got lower, we saw that Dave's head was attached..with Doug right behind.  Found him!   All right, we can move on now.    We made our way down a long narrow passageway that led down to the lake...barely wide enough  to let people pass who were coming up.  When we got to the bottom, we walked by the Glowing Clouds and Holyland Archway, and headed west along the lake shore.

Our goal was to go see the Marble Boat, then walk back alont the shoreline to the Seventeen-Arch Bridge.  The Marble Boat was built in the late 1800's, when the Summer Palace was restored by Dowager Empress CiXi, with funds embezzled from the Imperial Navy.  In 1888, she ordered the reconstruction and enlargement of the Palace grounds, which continued for 10 years.

Buddha statue carved right in the wall of the DuoBao Glazed Pagoda
  After completion, she renamed the gardens "YiHeYuan", which means Garden of Peace and Harmony. 

The Marble boat was completed in 1893, using money that had been earmarked for the creation of a modern Chinese Navy. The order to divert the funds was quietly issued by Empress CiXi in collusion with corrupt court eunuchs.  The marble base of the boat was originally a platform for a Ming Dynasty Buddhist monastery where fish and birds intended for the marketplace were released by the devout in order to gain karmic merit.  The ship itself is a reproduction of a steam paddleboat.    So,  Empress CiXi diverted funds meant to make real ships, in order to build this fake one!  Ahh--it's good to be the queen.  

  The guys started making fun of me for taking so many pictures in this area.

vultures hang out
  Annoyed, I walked ahead of them and started working my way down the long corridor, towards the eastern shore of KunMing Lake.

The Long Corridor was originally built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong's reign (1750) and then rebuilt in the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu's reign (1886) because the Anglo-French Allied Forces burned it down in 1860. It starts from Inviting the Moon Gate in the east and ends at Shizhang Pavilion in the west, covering a distance of 728 meters with its 273 sections. Of all the corridors in Chinese classical gardens, the Long Corridor is the longest.   The Long Corridor stretches symmetrically to the east and the west along the foot of the hill and the water bank, linking all the structures scattered along the Longevity Hill side into a whole.

Tower Of The Fragrance Of The Buddha
     Walking way ahead of the guys, I eventually came to the Heralding Spring Pavilion, along the east shore of the lake.  A tiny bridge led to this small rocky outcrop of an island,  jutting out into the lake.   There were some people picnicking there, as this island offers wonderful views of the lake, Longevity Hill, and Seventeen Arches Bridge.  While I was exploring it, I saw the guys pass me without noticing and continue south along the lake shore.  I walked back across the bridge and followed them, towards the Bronze Ox Statue where we had agreed to meet.   The guys didn't see me trailing them, and thought I was far ahead...they were surprised when I arrived at the Ox after they did!

Cast in the 20th year of Emperor Qianlong's reign (1736-1795), this statue was also called the "Golden Ox".

This giraffe ducked his head just as I took the shot!
  Crouching on the carved stone base, It is said that the bronze ox was positioned here to keep the floods down. Inscribed on the back of the ox is an ode of eighty words entitled "Inscriptions on the Golden Ox". It was written by Emperor Qianlong in a traditional style of Chinese calligraphy known as seal characters.  The Ox statue was not as imposing as the guidebooks and brochure had made it out to be. We were expecting this huge statue, but it was barely the size of a real ox!   

 It was just before the Seventeen Arches Bridge, but we didn't go on the bridge itself... the guys were in a hurry to get to our next destination, the Beijing Zoo.   We bought tickets to one of the Dragon Boats, and it carried us back across the lake.

We had a nice view of KunMing Lake while we waited for Dave and Doug to catch up
   We hopped onto the boat at the dock, and were just settling in when we were told we were not on the boat we bought a ticket for.  Our boat was just pulling in to the dock.  How were we to know, they all look the same!   We switched boats, and it wasn't long before we were under way.   There were only a few other passengers aboard, so we were able to change our seats based on whatever photographic opportunities presented themselves.  It was apparent from out on the lake, just how large and imposing the Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha was!  It was looming high over Longevity Hill, while most of the other buildings only rose to treetop level.   It was nice to have another perspective of the Palace while we returned to the north shore.
A Chinese girl saw I was alone and offered to take this picture of me
  The boat dropped us off at the dock that was right near the Marble Boat, where we had started out. 

We visited the gift shop near the dock and across from the Marble Boat, so we could get some sodas and souvenirs.  I bought some magnets (of course) and then, following the map on our guide pamphlet, we walked a path around the back way, and crossed some ornate bridges to get back out by the North Gate.  We crossed the street, woke our driver who was napping in the car in the McDonalds parking lot, and instructed him to take us to our next destination... the Beijing Zoo!


 

 

 

chiyeh says:
Thanks for the lesson! And nice pics, by the way!
Posted on: Jun 19, 2007
CrazyLisa says:
Wow sounds like a great day.
Posted on: Jun 13, 2007
WaltJake says:
thanks!
Posted on: Jun 12, 2007
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The Marble Boat- a sign of excess from Dowager Empress CiXi

 Our driver took us next to the Beijing Zoo, where he dropped us off out front so we could buy tickets, while he went in and parked in the lot  (presumeably to have another nap)   We bought our entry passes, and went to our first stop..the Panda House!  You could just buy tickets to the panda exhibit if you wanted to, but we got passes for the whole zoo.    Just inside, there was immediately a crowd of people gawking through the glass at the pandas.   I was able to hold my camera above the crowd to get some shots, taking advantage of the fact I was the tallest one there!  The bears were happily munching away on bamboo shoots, which is pretty much the only thing they eat.  One of the main reasons pandas are endangered, is because their bamboo habitats are disappearing.

bamboo lunch
   (I noticed they had bamboo growing pretty much all over the zoo, so they always have a ready supply!)  There were also some pandas in an enclosure outside, they were all either eating or sleeping.   We stopped in the panda gift shop, which offered all sorts of panda paraphernalia.  I got a panda spoon for my mom, and a couple toy stuffed pandas as gifts.    We then went off to explore the rest of the zoo!  

We wandered from exhibit to exhibit, looking at the various animals...monkeys, kangaroos, etc.   We weren't planning on doing the whole zoo, just some of the larger attractions, such as the tigers and elephants.  The tigers were in a "big cat" room, which had different caged areas within, containing lions, tigers, pumas, and other large cats.

The "Long Corridor", a covered walk that runs parallel to the lake
    The cages seemed to be too small for them, and many were pacing back and forth, especially the tiger.   The guys were anxious to get going to see the Llama temple, so we weren't planning to spend too much more time here.  Ok, I just want to see the elephants and rhinos, and then we can go!  I know Tyler will want pictures of them.   Doug had lagged behind at that point, and Lee went to look for him while Dave waited.   "Ok, I'll meet you at the elephant house!" I said as I walked ahead... I wanted to get a head start, because I spend a lot more time taking pictures than the rest of the guys, and they tend to get annoyed with me for that...this will give me time for pictures while they catch up.
Panda Exhibit, Beijing Zoo
  As it turned out,  I wouldn't see them again for another two hours!!

I went in the elephant house, and immediately felt bad for them.  They had a couple of rooms to themselves, but they still didn't seem large enough for elephants.  One was pacing back and forth between the rooms, and a small one was in a cage by himself, separated from the bigger ones.  One of the big ones (probably his mom) stuck her trunk into his cage, and they were gently stroking each others trunks...heartbreaking!  You could tell they wanted to be closer, but were separated by the bars.  I took several photos, and waited for the guys to catch up.

As I waited just outside the elephant house, I decided to go and use the restroom next door.

Heralding Spring Pavilion
   When I came out, there was still no sign of the other guys. After waiting there another 5 minutes, I started to get worried that maybe I missed them.  Maybe they came by, saw I wasn't there, and continued on to the Rhino house?  I decided to go there, figuring they were either there already, or would be shortly.  I passed an aviary on the way, which had several varieties of vultures.   The rhino house had another gift shop and restaurant in it, as well as several enclosures behind glass for the Rhinos.   No sign of the guys, though!   I waited there about 10 minutes, then decided they must have been and gone, and were actually way ahead of me by now.    Oh, well... I'll just head for the car then.
Panda in glass enclosure
..they'll probably be there waiting for me!

I walked from the back of the zoo all the way back to the front, taking pictures as I went.   I was convinced that the guys would be at the car already, but the driver indicated through hand signals that he hadn't seen them at all. Hmm!  I went back to the Panda house, to see if they were there, but no luck.  I decided to wait right there, because it was a main intersection, and if they came by that way at all, I wouldn't miss them.   Well, I waited there 45 minutes, and no sign!  I remembered how they had all split up to look for me back at the Forbidden City, so I thought it was best at that point to go back into the zoo and look around until I found at least one of them.

The Bronze Ox...that's it?
  As it turned out, that would be another mistake!

Well, I went back into the zoo to search for the guys, another half hour wasted walking around, with no sign of any of them.  I walked back to the car again, and there they were!  It turned out, they had showed up there about 5 minutes after I went back in to look for them!   They were pretty mad at me for "disappearing" on them, but it was just a big miscommunication.  It turns out, they did make it to the elephant house, and saw me there taking pictures, although I never saw them there.  They then went back to the bridge over the waterway and waited for me there for about 45 minutes.  I had been waiting for THEM to show up at the elephant house, less than 100 yards away, and because I never saw them, I assumed they kept going, and I "followed" after them, while they had been waiting for me to come back the same way.  Oh well, "poop" happens...especially at the zoo!    We hopped back in the Audi and headed to our next destination...the Llama Temple!

ladybuglover_01 says:
Awe fun! And being the tallest helped ;) lol
Posted on: Jun 29, 2007
Aditu says:
What no otters!! What kind of zoo is that anyway LOL!!
Posted on: Jun 23, 2007
WaltJake says:
Thank you! (They had no otters, though!)
Posted on: Jun 23, 2007
Near the North Entrance to the Sum…
Near the North Entrance to the Su…
Panda Exhibit, Beijing Zoo
Panda Exhibit, Beijing Zoo
Another photo altered by Roger (…
Another photo "altered" by Roger …
Panda in the yard
Panda in the "yard"
Entering the Summer Palace at the …
Entering the Summer Palace at the…
The tiger kept pacing in his tiny …
The tiger kept pacing in his tiny…
SuZhou Street shops along the canal
SuZhou Street shops along the canal
The elephant too...I thought the e…
The elephant too...I thought the …
Buddha statue carved right in the …
Buddha statue carved right in the…
vultures hang out
vultures hang out
Tower Of The Fragrance Of The Budd…
Tower Of The Fragrance Of The Bud…
This giraffe ducked his head just …
This giraffe ducked his head just…
We had a nice view of KunMing Lake…
We had a nice view of KunMing Lak…
A Chinese girl saw I was alone and…
A Chinese girl saw I was alone an…
The Marble Boat- a sign of excess …
The Marble Boat- a sign of excess…
bamboo lunch
bamboo lunch
The Long Corridor, a covered wal…
The "Long Corridor", a covered wa…
Panda Exhibit, Beijing Zoo
Panda Exhibit, Beijing Zoo
Heralding Spring Pavilion
Heralding Spring Pavilion
Panda in glass enclosure
Panda in glass enclosure
The Bronze Ox...thats it?
The Bronze Ox...that's it?
knock knock
knock knock
We saved a long walk and took a Dr…
We saved a long walk and took a D…
lemme out!
lemme out!
Tower of the Fragrance of the Budd…
Tower of the Fragrance of the Bud…
sleeping in the doorway
sleeping in the doorway
Seventeen Arches Bridge in the dis…
Seventeen Arches Bridge in the di…
(zzzzzzzzzzz)
(zzzzzzzzzzz)
bridge over the moat  (SuZhou St…
bridge over the "moat" (SuZhou S…
Was hoping to get this guy to spre…
Was hoping to get this guy to spr…
Modeled after SuZhou, the Venice …
Modeled after SuZhou, the "Venice…
hyper monkey
hyper monkey
this guy was poling his way along
this guy was poling his way along
lounging around
lounging around
lots of ornate little buildings an…
lots of ornate little buildings a…
unhappy tiger
unhappy tiger
fancy entranceway, Summer Palace
fancy entranceway, Summer Palace
sleepy lion
sleepy lion
About to climb to the Four Great …
About to climb to the "Four Great…
beautiful animal!
beautiful animal!
guarding the entrance
guarding the entrance
this puma was pacing too
this puma was pacing too
stone artwork on the pillars
stone artwork on the pillars
you had to cross a bridge to get t…
you had to cross a bridge to get …
We had to climb a few steps to get…
We had to climb a few steps to ge…
there was a kind of moat going aro…
there was a kind of moat going ar…
up we go
up we go
sad elephant
sad elephant
views of the hills from the top
views of the hills from the top
this guy kept pacing
this guy kept pacing
the Four Great Regions Temple was …
the Four Great Regions Temple was…
they had a bird enclosure outside
they had a bird enclosure outside
fancy architecture
fancy architecture
another aviary
another aviary
Summer Palace
Summer Palace
monkey house
monkey house
ornate roof artwork is a popular t…
ornate roof artwork is a popular …
I forgot what these were..Emus or …
I forgot what these were..Emus or…
courtyard on top
courtyard on top
I waited for the guys at this brid…
I waited for the guys at this bri…
some kind of watch tower, perhaps?…
some kind of watch tower, perhaps…
various waterfowl lived here
various waterfowl lived here
a small rock arch cave between bui…
a small rock arch cave between bu…
waterway that ran through the zoo
waterway that ran through the zoo
The buildings were built right int…
The buildings were built right in…
looking down, and back towards the…
looking down, and back towards th…
Four Great Regions Temple area
Four Great Regions Temple area
rocky path behind the buildings
rocky path behind the buildings
Tower Of The Fragrance Of The Budd…
Tower Of The Fragrance Of The Bud…
lots of steep, narrow stairways
lots of steep, narrow stairways
these steps led down towards the l…
these steps led down towards the …
view from the base of the Tower Of…
view from the base of the Tower O…
looking up the Tower
looking up the Tower
Tower Of The Fragrance Of The Budd…
Tower Of The Fragrance Of The Bud…
looking down at the buildings belo…
looking down at the buildings bel…
we studied our maps and got our be…
we studied our maps and got our b…
looking up at the Fragrant Temple
looking up at the Fragrant Temple
many buildings were set right on t…
many buildings were set right on …
Thousand-hand Buddha
Thousand-hand Buddha
The narrow passageway we had to wa…
The narrow passageway we had to w…
It was barely wide enough for two …
It was barely wide enough for two…
I believe this was the Hall of Dis…
I believe this was the Hall of Di…
These guys always seemed to be aro…
These guys always seemed to be ar…
outside the hall, in the courtyard…
outside the hall, in the courtyar…
dragon statue protected by mesh
dragon statue protected by mesh
Glowing Clouds and Holyland Archway
Glowing Clouds and Holyland Archway
Some sort of natural porous stone …
Some sort of natural porous stone…
There were plenty of small boats o…
There were plenty of small boats …
Walking path along the lake
Walking path along the lake
Along the shore of KunMing Lake
Along the shore of KunMing Lake
Marble Boat
Marble Boat
One of the many ferry boats that w…
One of the many ferry boats that …
relic along the lake
relic along the lake
Lake shore
Lake shore
KunMing Lake
KunMing Lake
North East corner of KunMing Lake
North East corner of KunMing Lake
some nice stone bridges here
some nice stone bridges here
Tower Of The Fragrance Of The Budd…
Tower Of The Fragrance Of The Bud…
there was a nice garden along the …
there was a nice garden along the…
row of rental boats, with Heraldin…
row of rental boats, with Heraldi…
Little stone bridge to Heralding S…
Little stone bridge to Heralding …
Heralding Spring Pavilion
Heralding Spring Pavilion
Seventeen Arch Bridge...thats as …
Seventeen Arch Bridge...that's as…
here comes our boat
here comes our boat
aboard the Dragon Boat
aboard the "Dragon Boat"
Ornate bridge on the way out
Ornate bridge on the way out
great views throughout the grounds
great views throughout the grounds
most of the trees were in bloom wh…
most of the trees were in bloom w…
Beijing
photo by: Deats