We started our morning by meeting Ping and her father for breakfast. Xie works for the government of China and the 'Chamber' of his city/province promoting oil exploration and development. Their city is only 35 years old; it is in the delta of the Yellow River and rich in oil. After returning to the hotel, we re-packed and set out again on a new adventure.
We flagged down a taxi and asked the driver to take us to Heaven's Gate. Andy pointed to what he thought were the Chinese characters. The driver took us to the Summer Palace instead-- were we glad.
As you can tell by the attached pictures, it was idyllic! The lake was man-made and with the rest of the property, constructed in the 1400's. The Emperor had--boys, please stay seated--3,000 concubines. But what a lousy job to have. Once the emperor died, all the concubines were put to death (unless they had given birth) so the new emperor could bring in 3,000 new ones! Because one of the emperor's didn't want his concubines to get bored, he built a market for them so they could go shopping! Talk about setting a pattern early on . . .
The painted details, cement work and artistry were all amazing. We spent 3 hours and could have spent 3 days. The Forbidden City is stark in comparison. The Emperor et al could travel from the Forbidden City to the Summer Palace by water; we lesser mortals can still make the trip but only to the southern gate entrance to the Summer Palace. We were very lucky to find a young Manchurian woman (a translator by profession) who served as a tour guide for us.
For all of Andy's talk about taking pictures of mini-skirts, the faces of the people and the beauty of the buildings won out.
After returning to the hotel, we headed downstairs to the street market that is permanently in place in front of our hotel. It stretches the entire block and is fun as well as filling. The vendors all compete for your attention and some go over and above what one would expect!
All in all, it has been a full day with great sights, smells and sounds.
Tomorrow we head to "The Wall".
Good Night from Beijing --
Joan & Andy