Now that was odd…

The photograph I took of the remains of my duck has somehow appeared on one of the hotel TV screens in the lobby. No text, just the image. It looks quite weird.

I have no idea why or how they managed to steal it. The options are these:

  1. When I emailed it to myself they could have intercepted the email and taken a copy of the attached image;
  2. When I posted it to the blog, they could have intercepted it and taken a copy;
  3. Someone could have noticed my blog, by chance, and right clicked on the image and taken it that way.

Whichever way they did it, I really wish they’d nicked a better photograph! Come on, guys! There’s some far better shots on there. What’s with the ex-duck meal?

That, however, happened when we arrived back at the hotel after a very enjoyable, traditional hotpot meal (which I’ll write up separately). The early part of the day was spent at the Summer Palace.

First up I’m going to mention the Anglo-French Allied Forces who “…brutally burned down…” the whole place back in 1860. Okay, it was terrible and I don’t think they should have done such a horrendous thing but to remind us of it every step of the way through the place, is just a bit much! Perhaps one big board at the entrance would have been enough.

Anyway, that out of the way, I’m not going to mention it again. Instead I’d like to write about what we saw: A fabulous place spoiled only by the lack of views.

Today started off looking like it was going to be the worst for pollution so far. Sadly our guide book says

“Avoid visiting on days with poor visibility when you risk missing the superb views across the lake that are one of the highlights of a visit to the Summer Palace.” Humpreys, A. 2013, Top 10 Beijing, DK Eyewitness Travel

Given our experience of the visibility so far this trip, I’m thinking there’s not going to be much chance for an awful lot of people to see those wonderful views. It’ll all be from books, I reckon.

Sad but so very true

Sad but so very true

Thinking about it, we’ve had two pollution clear days and we’ve been here for eight days. That’s one in four days is clear. How is that going to improve? Anyway, I’m not going to talk about the pollution any more, it’s too bloody depressing.

The palace is actually an immense area where the dynastic heads would come for a break from the Forbidden City in the stifling summer. They had a canal built which went from the moat around the City, all the way to the lake around the Summer Palace which meant they didn’t have to mix with their yucky peasant subjects, just hop into a barge and push off.

It was originally built by Emperor Qianlong in 1750 for his mother…as a birthday present! Seriously? What the hell did he get her the next year? The Summer Palace is 290 hectares with a whole city of little pavilions. It even had/has a shopping precinct which was just for them.

He called it Garden of Clear Ripples. He was obviously a master of understatement.

Anyway, the whole thing was burned down (as we know but will not mention again) so it was rebuilt in 1886 by order of our dear favourite Dowager Empress Cixi. She was supposed to use the money to strengthen the Chinese navy but figured fixing up the Summer Palace was a much better use for the money. I can’t argue with that.

A chocolate teapot...I mean a marble boat

A chocolate teapot…I mean a marble boat

Then something called the Allied Forces of Eight Powers swept in in 1900 and destroyed it again for it to be rebuilt once more in 1902. So, while it is a World Heritage Site, I’m not sure how much of it is still original. Apart from the marble boat, I guess, which wouldn’t really burn.

We only managed to see some of the place – it is way too big to see everything in one visit – but what we saw was lovely. The usual pavilions and scrubby parkland but also a very long corridor (apparently the longest in the world) which starts at the Moon Inviting Pavilion and leads, 728 metres later, straight into a shop of tacky souvenirs.

The corridor features lots of painted beams on the underside, extending all the way along its length. In fact, there’s lots of painted beams all over the place. I didn’t get a photo of the corridor beams but here’s one from a pavilion.

What I should have done in my office

What I should have done in my office

Of all the bits we explored, I think one of the favourites has to have been the boat ride across the lake. As anyone who reads my blog regularly knows, we always try and get a boat ride in, whenever we travel. This was no different…though completely different. Here’s the boat, for a start:

palace04

We thought we were going to have the place to ourselves but we were quickly invaded by a massive group, all wearing red fishing hats. They crowded poor Sarah who was sitting opposite us. She was a bit concerned they’d take her home with them.

Avoiding eye contact

Avoiding eye contact

Actually, this was Sarah’s first, really touristy day given she’s been working since she arrived so I think she rather enjoyed getting to meet the locals like this.

Suffice it to say, we all enjoyed the Summer Palace and, if it hadn’t been for the lunatic taxi driver that very nearly didn’t get us safely back to the hotel, it would have been perfect.

My new pet mythical beast

My new pet mythical beast

Just one final thing (I know mum is finding my posts far too long). I really feel I have to mention the Chinese girl who couldn’t sing, belting out a number of songs in the middle of the Seventeen Arch Bridge. She was truly bad and proves that it doesn’t matter what nationality you are, flat is flat, regardless.

And let me finish with a shot of Mirinda and Sarah, chatting by the long corridor over two very expensive lattes.

palace07

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