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