Day 4: Summer Palaces
Destinations: Summer Palace ( 頤和園) and the Old Summer Palace (圓明園)
Hi guys, sorry for the late updates. Midterm week was pretty brutal and I was pretty swamp with studying and homework. But since that terrible week was over, the updates should be back on schedule. So, without further ado~
We started our morning with a bombass breakfast of Beijing’s fresh soy milk, Jian Bing Guo Zi (煎饼果子), and some buns. Jian Bing Guo Zi is a popular street breakfast food and it’s essentially a large, savory crepe folded into a rectangle shape. It’s made on a circular grill and once the batter has set, a layer of chili sauce is smeared over it. Crack some eggs over it along with some spices, sausages, and the most important thing–a crispy, fried cracker, and viola!
We had to run out of our hotel room early in the morning and hit several breakfast stands and restaurant so that we could get everything we wanted to try.
Divide and conquer.
After we finished eating, we headed towards Summer Palace.
Travel Tip!: If you’re a student, be sure to bring your student ID with you. Not all places abroad will take a foreign student ID but some places will give you a discount. You’ll probably have to show your passport but it’s definitely worth a try!
Our first stop was the Suzhou Market Street.
This street was originally built so that the Emperor and his concubines could take a stroll and experience a little bit of the average person’s daily life. Since the royal court’s everyday necessities were purchased for them by others, the market street was a way for the royal court to imagine a life that is forbidden to them. When royalty visited Suzhou Market Street, servants would often play the role of storekeepers and customers to create the illusion of a busy street.
Apparently the street is still functional today and there are several operating stores lining the river. But it was too hot when we got there and since we were also pressed for time, we quickly decided on a cooling river ride after snapping some quick photos.
A boat ride is one of the best ways to cool off in China during the summer. The view is also absolutely gorgeous too!
The boat dropped us off at the other side of the lake so we could make our way back. There were a lot of nice spots for a picnic and a lot of people were sitting close to the water and enjoying their lunch.
It was getting pretty hot again and so we decided to cool off with some popsicles. Remember to bring a water bottle and stay hydrated!
We walked around some more, enjoying the view around us. The lake is pretty big and there is a lot of walking involved so make sure you are wearing appropriate walking shoes or you will definitely regret it. You have to basically walk everywhere in China so investing in some good shoes is worth it.
Old Summer Palace
We only spent the morning at the Summer Palace because we planned to visit the Old Summer Palace since they were close to each other. The Old Summer Palace has more of a Western influence and you can still see the ruins today. Parts of it was destroyed during the Second Opium War by the British and the French. China has not restored the destroyed buildings but instead have turned the ruins into exhibits for tourists to visit.
The ruins are still pretty majestical and some restoration work has been done to give you a sense of the grandeur of the place. There are also signs and drawings up everywhere that show how the buildings originally looked like before it was destroyed.
We walked around for a bit until we came upon the maze. One of the emperors had the maze built inside the palace and he and his favorite concubines would play a game. Each concubine would stand in one of the four corners, holding a lantern. They would then try to make it to the center of the maze where the emperor was standing. First one there wins.
It’s a lot harder than you think. It took me almost 10 minutes and kind-heart auntie for me to make it to the center. I can’t imagine trying to do this in the dark.
The sun was starting to set so we decided to head back and the view back was just as pretty.
After we got back to our hotel, we decided to order some pizza. We had seen an advertisement for Beijing Duck pizza and we wanted to try it. It’s not bad but not really anything special, it just tasted like pizza.
End Day 4