Day By Day

Friday, June 03, 2011

Return to China -- Part 4, The Summer Palace

 Our next stop in Beijing was at the Summer Palace, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The current structure is little more than a century old, although parts of it go back to the mid-eighteenth century. It served as the summer residence of the infamous dowager empress CiXi in the early twentieth century and many of its features date from that period. The story always told about the Summer Palace is that it was largely constructed with funds diverted from national defense and was thus a betrayal of the nation's interest by irresponsible rulers. The most infamous symbol of this fecklessness, which we hoped to see, is the "marble boat" which lay at the opposite side of the lake from where we entered the palace grounds.

Our first view of the complex upon arrival featured the Kunming Lake and, in the distance, the Jade Peak Pagoda. It makes a nice picture, no?

Normally we would have crossed the lake on one of many "dragon boats" that were available, but there was an extremely high wind that rendered the lake unsafe.

The tour boats were berthed so we had to hoof it if we were going to see anything up close. Of course walking, or in my case ambling, presented lots of opportunities for pictures.

Here's another shot of the Jade Hill Pagoda. I was shooting into the sun, so many of the details are obscured, even with a polarizing filter. Along the lakeshore in the center of the picture is the beautiful Jade Belt Bridge. I wish it had come out better, it really is gorgeous.

And here is a closer shot of the palace complex. Too bad we only had a limited amount of time to see it.

And this is the famous "Seventeen Arch Bridge" on the far side of the lake. It was crowded with pedestrians heading toward the palace.

We finally arrived at the palace. This is a shot of the famous "Long Corridor", an intricately decorated passageway that leads to the heart of the complex and eventually to the infamous marble boat.

Unfortunately we were now out of time. Besides, the place was getting crowded and included these unsavory looking individuals. We rested for a few minutes, then began our journey back to the bus without seeing the marble boat. To my mind it's not really all that impressive [here's a picture I took of it a couple of years ago] but some of the party members were quite disappointed.

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