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Here come my thoughts! Watch out!

The car felt good.  Even though Tyler, Grandma and I were crammed in the tiny back seat of Mike’s VW, I still fell asleep.  The air-conditioning was too much to resist after a good meal and a full morning.  I was so glad to finally have a chance to rest for a little bit.  I woke up the beeping of Mike’s car parallel parking down the street from the Summer Palace.

We got out of the car and walked by a tunnel entrance.  I’m not sure where it lead to, but the smell of urine was quite powerful.  The walk wasn’t far to the gate of the Summer Palace.  I was struck by the beauty of the Summer Palace as soon as we passed through the entrance gate.  Immediately in front of us was a beautiful lake surrounded by pagodas and trees.  To our left there was a long bridge over the lake and to our right stood the enormous palace where Empress Cixi Dowager had once lived.

Lake Side

It was a little cloudy for a while.

Before we had entered the Palace gate, Mike had us read a short description of the place we would be visiting.  We had been trying to pronounce Chinese the correct way since we had started this leg of our journey, so when my grandpa read the Summer Palace description he pronounced “Cixi” in a funny way that made Mike laugh.  “Cixi” is pronounced as “sushi” according to Mike, but the way my grandpa had said it sounded more like “Sexy”.  Mike laughed so much.  That became a running joke for the rest of our trip.

Anyway, there were boats floating out on the lake.  Some were paddle boats, but the ones I was most impressed with were the dragon boats that carried tourists to the Palace on the other side of the lake.  They were huge!  And oh so beautiful.


These boats are awesome!

We walked up and around the bridge which was really steep and for some reason, I remember it being a little slippery.  But it was magnificent!  After that we decided to take a boat over to the palace.   It was slow moving but another welcome rest.  We docked right next to a boat made out of marble.  How that thing floated, I don’t know.  I guess water displacement is the answer.  Just like for all other boats–it’s science!

Marble Boat– Science!

The boat rocked a little as we all climbed out.  Back on solid ground, we made our way along a path that led up to a museum about Empress Dowager.  There was a photo of Chairman Mao inside the museum that I took a picture of.  Later I realized I wasn’t supposed to do that…oops.  I heard all through the museum Chinese tourists whispering, “Sushi, sushi!”.  I determined to look up Cixi’s history when I returned to America.  If you ever get the chance, look up her history.  It’s very interesting.

Mike took us down the hill that led us away from the museum and over to an outdoor hallway called the Long Corridor.  It really is a “Long Corridor” too.  It goes on for a half mile!  In every section of the corridor there are paintings that tell a story.  We stopped for a rest after walking a ways down the corridor and Tyler pointed out a painting and began making up a story about what was happening in the picture.  We all laughed.

Outdoor Hallway

The bad thing about being white– you can always tell when we are hot.

Even though we were in a shady spot and the sun was starting to drop in the sky, it was so hot!  We kept walking and headed toward the palace.  When we made it there, my jaw dropped.  The stairs.  There were so many stairs.  I was tired and there were so. Many. Stairs.  Not as many as at Big Buddha, granted, but still.  I wasn’t as tired then.

We had to pass through a few gates before we got to the main staircase for the palace.  It sat all the way at the top of the hill.  The staircases were made out of marble.  I kept thinking, “What a stupid stone to make stairs out of.  They are so slippery!”.  I really think people must have slipped and cracked their heads all the time.  The stairs on their own would have made a great defense if the palace ever got attacked.

Here’s the palace!

Pretty door on one of the gates.

The walk to the palace was pretty!

The walk up to the palace was quite beautiful.  It was slippery and I was tired but it was worth it.  The view was amazing!  You could see everything and I was so happy to be there!  I think that’s how things go in life though.  The things that take the most effort in life are the things that are most worth it in the end.

The climb down was a little dangerous and I slipped a couple times but we made it down safely.  It was time to go.  We made it back to the entrance to the Summer Palace after walking along the rest of the Long Corridor and through a maze of water lilies.  Outside the gates my grandpa bought us some soft serve ice cream.  I don’t remember what the flavor was exactly.  I think it was vanilla, but it tasted different than any vanilla I had ever tried.  It was sweet and tangy and cold and delicious!

The sun was setting but Mike had a few more things on our agenda.  He took us to a Chinese acrobat/Kung-Fu show.  It was pretty awesome!  I didn’t take any pictures since it was in a theater but it was pretty cool.  It was performed by teenagers who were still in school.  I don’t know how anyone could ever move like that.

The last event for our night was dinner.  Mike took us to a Peking Duck restaurant.  The hostess led us to a private room where Mike ordered Coke and Sprite for everyone.  I left to go to the bathroom, a dreaded event for me since pretty much all the toilets I had encountered that day were squatters.  When I came back, Tyler had hidden my backpack.  This had become an on-going event because whenever I would leave I would say, “Don’t let anyone steal my stuff”.  So he would hide my backpack and say someone had stolen it.  I knew Tyler wouldn’t tell me where it was so I tried to get Mike to fess up, but he wouldn’t.  He thought it was funny too.  What they didn’t understand is that even though, I knew they had it, I got this horrible anxious feeling without it close by.  After all, it had all my money, passport and souvenirs in it.

We sat around the table and waited for our food to come.  When it did, it smelled magnificent!  They brought us what seemed to be tortillas with the Peking Duck.  The idea was that you would roll up the duck in the small tortilla and dip it in sauce.  The meal was delicious!  I’m not normally one for dark meat but I really enjoyed it.  Mike told us the duck’s head was a delicacy so he ordered it for us.  Tyler ate the bill of the duck and I ate the brain.  I’ll try anything once, as long as it’s not bugs…  The brain was good.  It was pasty but tasted like meat.  I would probably eat it again.

Finally the meal was over and I was rewarded with my backpack.  The feeling of relief I had has no description.

Mike drove us back to the hotel and once again told us when he’s pick us up the next day.  We thanked him and went up to bed.  I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.  I need my rest for the next day because we were going to the Great Wall.

The Asia Trip: Beijing パート 5




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