Shenanigans at The Summer Palace

July 22

Last time, we had a serious, meaningful chat about the power behind history–the way it helps clear up our present world and understand one another.

Great stuff. But this is a blog! not a dissertation.

Let’s kick back the way the emperors in China used to and head to their summer getaway known as, yep, The Summer Palace, one of Beijing’s tourist hot-spots. I had a nice time walking around; you’ll have a nice time reading about it. :)

I got there with the fine Beijing subway and entered the grounds not sure what to expect. I walked in, saw all the old buildings, the vendors, and the people. I took a right, down a quieter route along the outside of this building:

Yep, this is a palace alright. And this was just one of many structures.

Along a stone walkway spotted with trees a pond appeared. Others were there enjoying it:

Remember when you courted me at this pond?

They were looking off toward this nice view:

Meanwhile, I was looking down along with this boy:

These bright orange goldies really glowed in this grey pond. On a grey day overall, they were like little suns lighting up the world from the ground up. Their orbit was random yet graceful, several little suns gliding as one around the docks.

On the other side of the pond, a river broke free. I followed it. It wasn’t palatial but it definitely felt like a getaway. These must have ben some peaceful grounds to wander for the Chinese royalty.

Today, these guys are happy they can enjoy a relaxing afternoon away from the rest of busy Beijing:

See? Beijing is just like Minnesota.

Right, Ms. Li?:


The fishermen caught their humble-sized catch like they were sunnies, sticking their lines in the water, the bobbers dancing frequently. It was just a matter of setting the hook in the tiny mouths.

How tiny?

Well, this other solo fisherman used a small water bottle for a live well:

heeyaa! I'm eatin' tonight!

One managed to jump out while I was watching.

Later on, things got a little hectic in the river:

Beautiful, though.

So I decided to get back to the proper tourist experience and join the crowds at the impressive buildings. I just had to walk a ways to get there:

Ever wonder the difference between Chinese, Korean, and Japanese? Well, Korean features the circles and Japanese offers the more simplified, one line characters. Both systems are offshoots of Chinese script.

Coming in through the “back door” I wound up at the large hilltop temple first. Here’s the impressive view looking out:

The lake actually takes up ¾ of the palace grounds. Considering the distance one walks, it speaks to the size of this place.

After looking out, I turned around and looked up:

Inside was a huge, many armed Buddhist statue. Unfortunately, they didn’t allow pictures. But let your imagination run wild. God knows the statue’s creator did.

Finally, here was the view looking down:

over the top

Working my way down this neat stairwell, I found my way to the bottom:

Looks like something from a video game

At the bottom, one could walk around the quarters. Many of the structures were converted to little museums. Others were off-limits. Many were said to house gifts for the Empress from other countries including France and England. Vendors decorated the area where tourists enjoyed the lake-level view. Some took a ride on a boat. Others sat and relaxed:

You couldn't ask for a more typical example of older female fashion in China. One day, apparently at around 50, the women throw out all their clothes and start fresh. Fresh as daisies. Fun side note: when reviewing fashion in my adult English class, "floral" may have been the toughest word for them to say. That or "rural".

Finally, I wandered around the lake and visited the old theater. It was a nicely built relic–thick hardwoods erecting a grand stage that required the presence of great performer to fill the void.

Indeed, they give performances on the stage, replicating the art from when the Emperor or Empress watched with their company of distinguished guests. They would arrive on man-pulled or man-carried carriages and enjoy:

Actually, I was impressed how entertained I was.

These girls are just giving a show for tourists, yet I could really dig the unique frequency that Chinese art vibrates at. There’s a lot of depth to it, moving something within. It’s cool that many tourists come to enjoy this art being resurrected.

After this I took one last look:

from a distance

And I left the imaginary world of royalty and peasants. (Boy, you could that again. My next stop that day was Walmart!)

to new plateaus,



Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Culture, Society, Travel


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

6 responses to “Shenanigans at The Summer Palace

  1. lz

    July 23, 2011 at 12:29 am

    Enjoyed the pics, especially of all the Koi. My friend in Chile has a pond full of them at his ranch in the Southern part of

    • Brandon Ferdig

      July 23, 2011 at 8:33 am

      That’s awesome, Larry. I’d love to see that.

  2. SF Fan

    July 23, 2011 at 1:50 am

    ‘Bout time China embraced it’s past. Here in San Francisco Chinatown, shops sell shards of age-old porcelians that were smashed by the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. I’m curious–are there any references to that part of China’s history in any museum? Do they talk about it?

    • Brandon Ferdig

      July 23, 2011 at 8:33 am

      Ya know, I haven’t seen reference to the cultural revolution. That would be interesting to see, though. The best I got is that I talked with a Chinese teacher about it and she would refer to it as a “mistake” that Mao made.

      • SF Fan

        July 26, 2011 at 4:45 am

        Some mistake! Are Mao’s “Little Red Books” still around?

        • Brandon Ferdig

          July 28, 2011 at 11:06 pm

          Ya know, I haven’t seen anyone own one, but it’s probably not something they wave around. I have seen them in stores, though.