When my students ask me “Where have you been in China?” Or, “Where have you been in Beijing?” I can tell them, “I’ve been to the Summer Palace.” Instead of “I haven’t gone anywhere yet.”
This is an exciting development! Now, I just need to go to the Great Wall so the students won’t have to look sad for my total lack of traveling around in China thus far.
However, this is not the point of this post. I’m here to tell you about the Summer Palace!
First of all, if I told that we live near the Summer Palace, I apologize as that is completely untrue. We live near the Old Summer Palace, which is not the same thing as the not-quite-so-old Summer Palace, which is the one that people have ever heard of before. The Old Summer Palace, however, has a fascinating history that I just read on wikipedia, and you might like to also. Here is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuan_Ming_Yuan
Anyways, on to the fancy-pants Summer Palace. We went last Saturday, when it was pouring in Beijing. Therefore, there were only six of us brave souls who went. Six is easier to keep track of than our usual twelve or more, so this was a lot of fun. So we all grabbed our umbrellas (I bought one, which I promptly lost later that day) and headed out. 30 yuan gets you into the park, which is less than five dollars American, although you might have to pay a bit more to go to some of the special parts of the park. We didn’t get that far.
Because it was raining, and because we went in the back gate somehow, there weren’t too many people in most of the parts of the park we saw. The combination of the fog from the rain and the fact that everyone was carrying an very photogenic umbrella (I think umbrellas are just adorable objects) made for some awesome pictures.
After several hours spent tramping around in puddles, clambering up rocks, and enjoying the majestic atmosphere of the Summer Palace, we returned to the grit and grime of modern Beijing.
Fortunately, whenever I need a respite from busy modern life, I don’t have to go all the way to the Summer Palace, because here at the Yuan Ming Yuan campus of Beijing University, we live right next to the lovely Yuan Ming Yuan park!
Yuan Ming Yuan park is also known as the Old Summer Palace. Now, unfortunately the Old Summer Palace does not have magical pagodas like the other Summer Palace, as they were all burned down by the British and French back in the 19th century, unfortunately.
The Old Summer Palace does have beautiful gardens, lakes, and bridges. And, it’s only a five minute walk from campus, and you can get a month’s pass for only 15 kuai… which is like 2 dollars. Rock-awesome! So, a group of us went out to check it out on a steamy Monday afternoon. It was very pleasant to walk around in the gardens, and I certainly plan to be spending a lot of time in Yuan Ming Yuan park in the coming year.
I have thirty-some more pictures from the Summer Palace on my facebook account, if you want to check them out.