Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Beijing Photos: Part III
After loading up, we headed to the Summer Palace, where emperors went to relax. The Palace is famous for having been enlarged in the late 1800's by the Empress Dowager Cixi. Reportedly, she diverted money from the struggling navy for this project, which resulted in China loosing ground to Japan. Evidence of her extravagance is best found in the marble "boat" that sits on the shores of the lake (pictures of this in the album, too.) The Palace is beautiful - ornately built and huge, spreading over lake shores and lush gardens. However, the day that we visited also happened to be a national holiday and it felt like all of China came to join us. For fun, we took a rickshaw ride the few hundred meters from the subway to the Palace and then spent a few hours shuffling along with the crowds to see the sites. (Can you spot Jeff among the crowd in the second picture above?)
From there, we went to the Temple of Heaven, on the other side of the city, where we found a lot more open space and relaxation. The Temple is surrounded by beautiful gardens and park space, which was full of people singing, dancing, and enjoying the beautiful weather. The Temple was also built for the emperors and has a very similar style to the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. The flowers were in full bloom while we were there - see the last picture above.
We finished the day with some fake market shopping and then a picnic in our hostel courtyard. More pictures here: http://hsinchina.shutterfly.com/4979.