About a month ago, me and my friends made a sudden decision to go to the Summer Palace located not that far away from my university. Taking the 331 bus from QingHua Yuan, located outside the South Gate of TsingHua University, we took about 20 minutes, a little more or less depending on the traffic. It was a good thing we picked this day to go because the weather changed quickly over the next few days. As my friends and I were talking, it’s the “Summer” Palace, not the “Winter” Palace.
During our research for this trip the day before, some website mentioned that we could do the tour of the place in about one hour or two, so some other friends wanted us to go to some other places in Beijing but as we wanted to enjoy our one-day trip, we decided to just see how the place would be and how long it would take us to leisurely tour around.
[For a better view of all future pictures on this post, kindly click on the pictures to see a larger clearer version. This post is loaded with a lot of pictures. Thank you~]
Costing us 60rmb for the ticket that would allow us to go to all the inner “attractions” within the Summer Palace (see picture above), we made our way to the inside of the Summer Palace. Walking alongside the main road that traverses along one part of the lake, there were a lot of people and trees and plants. The view was very beautiful as you could see the lake and the boats on the lake, as well as the view of the mountain where there were structures that overlooked the lake from a higher vantage point. The lake area near this one pavilion and near to the boardwalk is surrounded by these beautiful plants growing out of the lake. I had a small urge to just pluck one out of the bunch. Haha.
One of the places we visited was this courtyard that was a gallery of different things. Like those courtyards you see in Chinese homes with this wide square leading to one large structure, then long corridors on the side zig-zagging within the compound, this gallery was just that. The main structure contained a large picture of the Dowager Empress, and some of her items and also this sort of stage where the emperor would sit while his attendants would stand by his side. Other structures in the gallery featured personal items that belonged to the dowager and people who lived within the compound, which included mirrors, combs, jewelry boxes, things for eating, and such other items made of ivory and jade. Some other items included were those that were probably gifts from people from foreign lands, or items that were bought from merchants who came from foreign lands. Another structure contained a library, while another contained a jade gallery full of jade items. There was a souvenir shop located there as well. Well, souvenir shops are located throughout the area anyway though some souvenir shops have some items which may be specific to their location.
One beautifully remarkable structure in Summer Palace is this long bridge that stretches into an island located in the middle of the lake. Despite the hot sun, me and my friends made it a point to walk to the island though there’s nothing much to see there. From there we took a boat (see second picture below) to another part of the Summer Palace nearer to the pavilion on the mountain. We had to pay something like 8rmb to ride the boat, but it was an interesting ride as you will be able to see the vicinity of the Summer Palace from the lake’s point of view, seeing the places where you walked through under the shade of the trees and such. The boat took us to the other side where the marble boat lay. It’s really a boat made of marble. I have no idea if it ran at all in older times or if it was just a stationary structure designed to look like a boat.
Here, me and my friends decided to have lunch because our 9/10am trip had extended to 1pm at this point. Tip when coming to the summer palace and expecting a long stay, bring drinks along with you if you can. Or at least buy from the outside and not inside places where you can eat (like restaurants) as drinks are a lot more expensive.
At one point during our excursion, we got lost along the “hilly road” aka mountain side while trying to look for a certain place. Good thing I had decided to wear rubber shoes that day instead of sandals because that hilly road was definitely hilly with lots of points where we had to climb up long steps. After a lot of walking, we finally got on track and found ourselves at this tower area that overlooked this canal where you could see lots of different stores. I could that imagine that in older times, there would be people living here and earning a living and people who would be from the palace would buy things from here for the emperor and the staff.
In the canal area, we were able to see lots of stores that sold various items like one would write calligraphy for customers, another would carve these little things that needed a magnifying glass to look at the intricate detail of the carving, there were restaurants that sold rice meals and noodles as well. There were loads of souvenir shops there that would sell various items like clothes or hats, and other popular Chinese souvenir items.
One of the great things of the canal (despite it being dirty, naturally)…was that one could imagine how it really looked like at an early time. Also the canal is very beautiful as it reflects the sky on it as well.
The last two places that me and my friends ventured towards was one – the pavilion on the hill, and two – another more residential looking courtyard that featured a large stage where celebrations and performances were acted out. There, we saw two very large pots used in Winter for heating. Below the buildings were also places where the heat would pass through and into other buildings in order for the heat to spread during cold weathers.
At the end of the day, that whole adventure took 8 hours. A lot more than the 1-2 hours previously recommended on the website. Haha. A definite must on an excursion like this is a good pair of rubber shoes and breathable clothes. This year, I visited the Summer Palace as early as September 10 but I’ve noticed that mid-September, the weather in Beijing turned cold. For those who go during the summer, loose light clothes are best. Jackets are a must for those who go during autumn and winter and early spring. Bringing water during a trip could be helpful, especially since there is a lot of walking involved. For those who don’t buy the all-you-can-enter ticket and wish to visit places inside that require tickets, you can just buy on the spot though the cost would be much more expensive as compared to just purchasing the 60rmb ticket. Don’t bring a lot of things as there are many people around as well so things might get lost if you’re not careful. An umbrella would be good to bring along as well as there are parts of the Summer Palace not shaded by trees and heavily exposed to the sun, so for those who are a bit iffy about that then bring along umbrellas for such instances.
The whole day was more than a leisurely stroll, but definitely a scenic stroll nonetheless. It also involved a lot of exercise so for those gunning for some walking and slight climbing, this is one heck of a great exercise. All in all, the 60rmb cost for the ticket, including miscellaneous expenses within the Summer Palace, as well as food and drink expenses was really worth it. The Summer Palace is definitely an enviable place, especially when one thinks of the people who got to live here before. Makes you wish you lived here as well.