Saturday, April 3, 2010

Summer Palace

Suzhou StreetI've changed my plans a bit. The whole train thing was giving me a bit of a headache. So rather than heading to the places I mentioned in my previous blog and making my way south, I've decided to take a flight as far south as I want to go and then head north. I've chosen Chengdu as my destination. I read a little bit about it, probably won't be staying there for two long. I'll use it as a base for a couple of days. The weather will be much warmer too and it'll get warmer as I head back north. Though it looks like there might be rain waiting for me when I arrive. My flight is tomorrow.

I used the time today to check out the Summer Palace, in the northwest area of Beijing. It's a pretty huge area and I spent the entire day walking around it. I entered through the north, made my way over a hill, through a number of buddhist temples, then down the hill to the Kunming Lake and over to the South Lake Island. The area is quite pretty and quite bit. I managed to cover just half of it. Just like in the Forbidden City, there were thousands of tourists. Often shoulder to shoulder squeezing through corridors. Sometimes it seems the people just go with the crowd, unsure of where they're going. I've noticed that when I aim my camera at something bizarre, soon everyone behind me starts looking in the same direction and taking pictures of the same thing.

Longevity HillI had a couple of delicious meals today. Finally decided to check out some restaurants. Both times I had a beef noodle soup. One was pretty plain and the other quite spicy. I wasn't sure how to order what I wanted, so I just pointed to a pictures they had on the wall or in the menu. Either way, I'm starting to feel a little more brave with going into restaurants.

I got around primarily with the Beijing Subway. I have to say I'm so impressed with it. I've never experienced city transportation that's so intuitive and efficient. The trains come within three minutes, so usually there's one right when you get there. It costs about thirty cents and you can transfer to eight or more lines without paying anything extra or leaving the subway. It'll get you to pretty much every part of the city. It's quite clean too, though most of the city is suprisingly well kept. I barely noticed any garbage on the streets when I walked around. I wonder how much of that is due to the Olympics. The city government put a lot of money into teaching people certain manners. Posters and videos are still all over the city showing people to line up, not to spit or litter, to give up seats to the elderly and I even saw a video in form of a cartoon showing that groping others on the train is not appropriate.

I've got to start writing these blogs when I'm not so tired. I've dozed off a few times during the previous entries. Time to get some sleep.

Suzhou Street at the north entrance of the Summer Palace:

Suzhou Street

North side of Longevity Hill:

Longevity Hill

Inside one of the temples:

Sacred statue on Longevity Hill

One of many paintings on the wooden beams of the Long Corridor:

Long Corridor beam paintings

The Marble Boat:

Marble Boat

Buddhist Fragrance Pavilion:

Fragrance Pavilion

Kunming Lake:

Kunming Lake from Fragrance Pavilion

South Lake Island:

Bridge to South Lake Island


Anonymous said...

Hi Marko

It is so great to follow your adventures. It is giving me the travelling bug again... The Great Wall seems to be such an amazing place. Thank you for sharing your photos & itinerary with us. It looks as if you are becoming a great expert at pointing food on menus :-) Looking forward to the next stories...


Steve said...

Cool photos as always and glad you found some good food. Have you tried any interesting teas?

Are you going to venture out into any of the more rural areas? I think it would be pretty cool to visit some of the huge rice paddy areas and some of the formal gardens.

Unknown said...

Hey Marko!

It looks like you got to see most of the nice spots in Beijing :) Cool that the subway is so helpful now! When I was there 10 years ago the was just one east-west line, so getting around by public transport meant taking a bus.

When you get to Chengdu you should eat at a place where they have the Sichuan hotpot - it's like a fondue where you put all kinds of veggies and meat into a very spicey broth to cook - yummy!

About 150km south of Chengdu you find Mount Emei which has some beautiful monastries and some nice hiking.

Have fun and enjoy the Chinese food!

Anonymous said...

Hi Marko,
You seem to hit tourist hot spots in Beijing. There is no escape from the crowd. Tried the Peking Duck yet? Chengdu will be a different pace for you and Emei Mountains will be more so.

If you want to take a train from there down south, ask a travel agent to get the ticket with a small service fee. Going to the train ticket center could be frustrated and confusing.

Beautiful pictures. Looking forward to the next story.


Phil said...

Great pictures Marko - Chengdu's a bit industrial but it's a great base. Make sure you try the spicy Sichuan dishes. When I was there in 1994 I was able to get a flight from Chengdu to Lhasa for ~$20 :-)

Mandy said...

You mean groping on the train is not appropriate? oh wow, all these

Anonymous said...

Do they have poutine in China?


Marko said...

Steve, a really tasty tea came with my meal today. I don't know exactly what it was. It had little bamboo chutes inside. Haven't figured out what I'm going to see, but I'm hoping to see some more rural areas.

Liping, I haven't tried the Peking duck. I found the restaurant you mentioned and I'll go to it when I return to Beijing.

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