The Summer Palace

On an organized trip one Saturday, we went to the Summer Palace or Yihe Yuan in Chinese, which means “Gardens of Nurtured Harmony.”  Not to be confused with the original Summer Palace, destroyed in the Second Opium War in 1860, the current Summer Palace started out as an expansive garden complex and later became the Summer Palace for the Empress Dowager Cixi.

It is an expansive 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water.  The main palace overlooks a large lake filled with paddle boats for rent and large dragon boats ferrying tourists from place to place.  Monica, Lihau, Will, and I (along with Monica’s language partner—a Beida student) all rented a paddle boat to explore the vast area.  We went around an island in the middle of the lake (attached to land by a formidable stone bridge); along the inlets and interspersed pagodas, we discovered another bridge, excessively arched in a distinctly oriental style.

Summer Palace Lake

Dragon Boat

Oriental Bridge

Summer Palace

We also saw the Marble Boat, an ornate 36 meter wooden boat (made to resemble marble) on which the emperor could enjoy the finest luxuries.

The Marble Boat

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