Saturday, November 3, 2012

It's Spring in Summer Palace ( 颐和园 Yi Je Huan)

Who'd think that you can feel Spring in a Summer Palace?

After spending half of the day in Great Wall of China, we took Bus 980 back to the city to the next destination in our itinerary for Day 1 : Summer Palace ( 颐和园 Yi Je Huan).

Named as the largest imperial park in China and has been recognized as "The Museum of Royal Gardens", Summer Palace is located at Yiheyuan (Summer Palace) Road, Haidian District (northwest of Beijing City).  It is also recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites declared being "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design". Mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake covering 2.9 sg kms, three quarters of Summer Palace is water.

From Great Wall of China, we arrived nearly three in the afternoon in the bus terminal in Beijing. We have the list of buses that will pass by Summer Palace but we don't have any idea where these buses pass by so we were left with one option, that is, to take the subway.

By subwaySubway Line 4: get off at Beigongmen Station (Beigongmen means the North Palace Gate); or get off at Xiyuan Station, get out of the station from Exit C2 (southwest exit) and walk west.
By busTake bus 209, 330, 331, 332, 346, 394, 683, 690, 696, 718, 801, 808, or 826 and get off at Yiheyuan Station.

Take bus 469 or 539 and get off at Yiheyuan West Palace Gate Station.

Take bus 209, 319, 320, 331, 332, 333(内), 333(外), 394, 432, 438, 498, 628, 664, 718, 801, 826, 特6, Yuntong 106, Yuntong 114, or Yuntong 118 and get off at Yiheyuanlu Dongkou Station (The Eastern End of Yiheyuan Road).

Take bus 303, 331, 346, 375, 384, 393, 498, 634, 683, 696, 697, 718, 801, 808, 特5 or 特10 and get off at Yiheyuan North Palace Gate Station.

Take bus 74, 374, 437 or 952 and get off at Xin Jian Gong Men (Yiheyuan New Palace Gate) Station.

Travel China Guide has this directions in English and Chinese characters and advised to be printed which the tourist can show to locals, if needed.

From Dongzhimen Station, we get off at Beigongmen Station and got out of Exit C2 (Southwest exit) and walked west.  We just walked along the Gongmenqian Street until we found the signage going to the Summer Palace.

We paid entrance fee of CYN 20.  There is a map sold at CYN10 so you can be fully guided how to maximize your tour inside the Summer Palace. But we were too tired to go around the palace and opted not to buy a map anymore. Instead, we just walked and walked and had some few stops to enjoy the sceneries surrounding the place.  With aching soles and very tired legs from the hiking adventure in the Great Wall of China, we only had so much energy to sustain.

Enjoying our first taste of ice cream that sounds like "Jing-min-er" while taking a rest in the midst of sleepy mid-afternoon air
Summer Palace is divided into four parts with its famous landmarks:
1. Court Area (East Palace Gate, Hall of Jade Ripples, Hall of Benevolence and Longetivity, Yiyun House, Hall of Virtue and Harmony, and, Hall of Joyful Longetivity)
2. Front-Hill Area (Long Gallery, Baoyun Pavillion, Hall of Utmost Blessing, Hall of Dispeling Clouds, Through the Wonderland, Tower of Buddhist Incense and Hall of Sea Wisdom)
3. Lake Area (Causeway, Nanhu Island, Kunming Lake, Bronze Ox, Back Lane and Wanzihe, Seventeen-Arch Bridge and Marble Boat)
4. Rear-Hill Area (Four Great Regions, Garden of Harmonious Interests, Suzhou Market Street)

We spent much of our time at the Court Area (which is at the East Palace Gate entrance) and the Lake Area where we had lots of "striking a pose" moments, just sitting down enjoying the scenery and the varieties of activities (families, students on a field trip, flock of tourists organized in a tour, couples and some groups like us) in Kunming Lake.  

Court Area
In the Court Area, that is where we had a taste of the sugar-coated haw in stick. It's yummy!

We enjoyed the view at Kunming Lake.  It was mid-afternoon and with the sun and the cool breeze of Spring, we all felt idle to go on walking. 

Kunming Lake
For a time, we stopped walking along the stretch of the lake, and just enjoyed eating ice cream and people watching.
the long stretch along Kunming Lake
After taking some rest, we continued walking, searching for the Marble Boat.  The walk took almost an hour as we had more stops striking a pose while enjoying the view as the sun was about to set.

along the stretch of Kunming Lake
With Summer Palace being recognized as "The Museum of Royal Parks", we found more of Chinese architectures that depict China's history, culture and tradition.

Stopping near the harbor where rentals for water bikes and floating boats can be found, we enjoyed the sunset with our jump shots instead.

 As we walked towards the exit of Summer Palace, we saw this Chinese man having the solitude of his life fishing under the bridge. 

To wrap-up my trip to Summer Palace, it was a place that I think is best to idly sit down, people watch, or just get the ambiance and beauty of the place ignite the writer in you. At the end of the day, you'll surely complete one good story.   It's also best place to jog or brisk walk in the morning, stroll a bit towards mid-afternoon and ride your bike in the late afternoon. 
at the other end of Seventeen Arch Bridge
It was an enjoyable place to end our first day in Beijing.  I climbed the Great Wall of China admiring the beauty surrounding Mutianyu with its bountiful flowers that only bloom in Spring, I ended up the day walking along the long stretch of Kunming Lake thankful for the opportunity to see the other side of my world.

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