Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beijing, part 2: Old Summer Palace

Beijing was ten degrees Celsius cooler than Shanghai, thankfully. Rain, though.

Left turners are more prone to cut off those with the right-of-way in Beijing than Shanghai, but maybe that's based on an insufficient amount of data.

I'm not used to foreign countries being so large. It felt strange to travel so far and not need to change currencies.

Chunyu picked us up at the airport and took us back to his apartment. We met his wife, son, and three cats. They live on the east side of Beijing, in Tongzhou. 22:00. I was still tired, but it felt better to be safely tucked away from the others from the airport and expressway. Safely in family's home.

The next morning, Chunlin's other brother, Jason/Yuzhou, picked us up for sightseeing.

Maybe it was just because it was a gray Monday morning, but there seemed to be more depressed people in Beijing than Shanghai. More overweight people, too.

The bamboo scaffolding of the south was replaced by timber and lumber in the north. Steel is still clamped together the same way, though.

Jason drove us through the decrepit and booming suburbs. It was his girlfriend's car, because only certain license plates are allowed into the city on certain days. We listened to a Jack Johnson cd that she had left in the player.

q24 - Che Takes a Ride
She had a Che Guevara "doll" on the dashboard of her car. Ah, the heroes of a communist country.

q2 - Building in Chaoyang

q3 - Buildings in Chaoyang

We stopped for a few minutes at Jason's office so he could introduce us to his boss. Mr Zhang, ni hao zai jian. Busy man. Jason is the COO of an online school company. Their brochure needs better English proofreading. Office in a business district in the northwest corner, near the Third Ring Road. Hard to keep track.

My original plan for the day was to go to the Forbidden City. Since Jason had taken the day off work, we changed the plan to a drive to the Great Wall. I asked to stop by the Ming Tombs on the way. Slight translation problem. The Ming Tombs aren't called the Ming Tombs in Chinese, but the Old Summer Palace is called Yuan Ming Yuan. Therefore, Jason spent an hour driving around the northern suburbs of Beijing looking for the Old Summer Palace when I was wondering why we weren't getting on an expressway and leaving the city far behind.

Despite driving around town for hours, we hadn't seen anything yet. I was ready for lunch, trapped in the back seat.

Since we were at the Old Summer Palace, we decided to see it, anyhow. It had sounded interesting when I first read about it, but I had dropped it off the itinerary to make room for other stuff.

Jason stayed with the car as Chunlin and I entered the gardens.
q5 - Yuánmíng Yuán East Entrance

q7 - Chunlin in Yuánmíng Yuán

It was good to be out of the traffic and seeing something for a change.

A big park with piles of stones and some ponds. These are the ruins of the imperial retreat before the French and British destroyed it back in the 1800s.
q11 - Great Fountain Ruins at Old Summer Palace

q14 - Old Summer Palace Dragon

q15 - Mark at Hall of the Calm Sea - Ch

q21 - Xieqiqu

q17 - Chunlin at the Garden of Yellow Flowers
A big stone maze is the dominant standing structure. It was rebuilt, actually.

q18 - Garden of Yellow Flowers Pavilion
It was easy to wend through if you follow the tour guides.

q20 - Across the Maze

It was cool out, yet I was still sticky hot if there wasn't a breeze.

My Forbidden City plan was gone. Our Great Wall plan was gone. 1:30. Time for lunch.
q22 - Spicy Lunch

More photos of the Old Summer Palace on flickr, as I'm sure you guessed.

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