As the days get busier, the evenings are spent fighting between sleep and spending a few extra minutes writing about my day. Chantal and I met at ten o’clock in the morning with plans to find and explore Summer Palace. Sometimes plans do not work out as smoothly as we anticipated.
According to the map on the wall of our hotel’s lobby, Summer Palace is near Yuanmingyuan metro station. So after a 5¥ fare, we hopped on the metro at Tian’anmen East and made our way to Yuanmingyuan station. After coming out of the subway station we spotted where we wanted to go, paid our entrance fee and started to explore.
It’s so beautiful and peaceful here. Almost no crowds and the scenery is spectacular. It was difficult to stop taking photos. Some of the cherry blossoms were in bloom and the big willow trees bordered many of the smaller lakes within the palace area.
About an hour in, we stopped to check a map of the grounds and it was quite confusing. It did not look anything like the map in Chantal’s guide book. That’s when we realized we were not at Summer Palace, but instead we were enjoying a lovely stroll through the Ruins of Yuanmingyuan Park, which is also the location of the OLD Summer Palace. Well…I guess we better make our way out and figure where the real Summer Palace is hiding!
A very nice man who spoke quite good English spotted our confused faces outside the metro station (once we had finally navigated out of the park) and gave us wonderful directions to the correct station where we would find Summer Palace. It was only two stops further at Beigongmen station. Because we arrived here just after two o’clock in the afternoon (and not quite in the busy tourist season yet), the entrance fee was cheaper, only 20¥. We walked through the gates and…yeah, now THAT is a palace.
Lots of climbing and after our warm walk through Yuanmingyuan Park, we still powered through. Summer Palace is really spectacular. I find the yellow roofs of the old Chinese royal buildings so appealing and the pattern of the tiles is mesmerizing.
We really enjoyed exploring the different structures and climbing up and around different corners to see what was waiting for us. We made our way up the palace and the headed down, following the water to our left. Turning a corner at the bottom we came upon a huge boat, which looked like it was made of marble. It reminded us of the river boats you can see along the Mississippi River, but of course in a more Chinese style. It’s fun to imagine the queens of the past enjoying afternoon tea on the lake in this massive house boat.
After a long but rewarding day, Chantal and I made it back to the hotel with some time to spare before meeting the group at six o’clock. Our guide, Yang Yang gave us a quick overview of our upcoming trip then we all went out for our first supper together; Peking duck!