Visiting the Summer Palace, Beijing Zoo and Lama Temple
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 31 of 41 › view all entries
Friday morning we got up early to take a cab to the Summer Palace. Of course, at first the cab driver offered us a flat fee (higher than what the meter would run). Larry and I asked one of the bell boys to help us obtain a cab that would run his meter. So we were on our way to the Summer Palace with a cab that used his meter and charged us what we expected. The Summer Palace was enormous. We observed the Chinese are very symmetrical. Everything in this city is built with precise symmetry. All the buildings are laid out in a very exact manner and with all other surroundings and measurements in mind. Everything is built neatly, even if it’s not well maintained or clean today - structurally it's organized.
The Summer Palace is a park with many gardens, pagodas and statues of Buddha.
After the Summer Palace, Larry and I took a cab to the Beijing Zoo. It’s funny because the author of our guide book writes about the Beijing Zoo, “The zoo is more likely to traumatize your child than provide entertainment.” But Larry said, “We can’t come to China and not see a panda.
So first of all, I’d assume that the city of Beijing must know that most tourists would go to the Beijing Zoo in hopes to see a panda bear. Assuming this, I would think that a good marketing strategy would be to create the Panda Park (I can’t recall what it’s called) towards the back of the zoo, or wherever the last exhibits are. I would think this would give tourists ample opportunity to tour the zoo, walk around, spend money on souvenirs and food, etc. So that by the time the tourist arrived at the Panda Park, the zoo would have made out. Well, when you walk into the Beijing zoo the very first attraction, is the Panda Park. Larry and I both thought that was interesting.
So we saw the pandas.
So we were pleased with the pandas. Though we both felt we had seen what we came to see, we figured we’re already at the zoo, we may as well check out some of the other animals.
Okay… if you’re reading this and you plan on visiting the Beijing Zoo… trust us, don’t go see any of the other animals. Really, it’s traumatizing!!! Seriously, don’t do it! Go see the pandas, be happy with your accomplishment and leave immediately thereafter.
We looked at the list of animals and decided we especially wanted to see the bears, the tigers and the elephants. Everything else, we’d see as we walked to these three main exhibits.
Okay, some of the other animals along the way to our next stop – the Bears - lived in poorer conditions.
We got to the bears. There were only 2 bears (of the 6 or so listed) that we saw.
There were signs everywhere that indicated, “Do not feed the animals.” You couldn’t miss the signage. It was in English and in the local language.
Of course the first thing we see when we get to the bear exhibit is people feeding the Brown bear. The bear was catching pieces of apple that a young lady was throwing down to it. Everyone around her was cheering her on.
We got to the “Big Cats Exhibit”. The outdoor part wasn’t too bad. There were two tigers and one lioness in separate outdoor caged areas.
Larry and I continued to an indoor area where they had other caged cats. It was wretched! It was a large area where tourists could stand in, but each cat had its own cage. The odor was absolutely repulsive. You could smell the cat urine everywhere. On top of that, there were huge chunks of animal meat laying around for the cats. These were big slabs of animal legs and other animal body parts for the cats to feed on, that had bugs flying all over them and just reeked. It was nauseating. I saw the white tiger and Larry and I looked at each other in horror as we held our noses and we motioned to each other, “Let’s get out of here.” I would never take my child in that indoor cat area. That was the most sickening thing ever. No wonder the cat area is towards the back of the park. I think the hope is that people will be tired by the time they see the first few attractions and decide to skip the cat area.
After that experience, I have no idea what possessed us to even want to continue onward to see the elephants. All I will say is poor elephants. There were two I managed to see (I cut this visit short… I didn’t even go in all the way). Larry said it best; he said it looked like we had stuffed an elephant into our tiny one car garage. Those poor elephants had no breathing room. They looked saggy, malnourished and depressed.
Our trip to the Beijing Zoo was what it was. We saw the pandas, we should have stopped there, but we saw what we saw… now let’s just move on.
Next we took the metro to the Lama Temple. The Lama Temple is also known as the Palace of Peace and Harmony.
We walked around the temple, saw everyone light incense and worship the Buddha and wondered about the religion. Though we are not Buddhists we respected everyone around us and it was neat to see people worshiping. Larry and I walked around in silence and appreciated everything around us. Our visit here was very Zen-like. It was peaceful.
From there we went back to the hotel to relax before heading out to dinner. Our dinner was nice. It was good. We’ve been very fortunate in finding good food for the most part everywhere we’ve gone.
All in all, I enjoyed my trip to China. I learned an enormous amount about the Chinese people and the cultures through the landmarks here and on our tours. I am pleased I came here. If I were to do it all over again, I’d come when the weather was warmer.
Saturday will be devoted to relaxing and packing. I will be going on to Thailand and Larry will return home to go back to work.