Field trip to Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace)

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Today, our class went on a field trip to Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace). The school decided that since many students from the previous quarter had already visited the Capital Museum, the school officials changed the destination to the Old Summer Palace. I was ecstatic as I had yet to visit the park which was located right next to Peking University and Tsinghua University.

We started off the day by meeting at the east gate of campus around 8AM. Only half of the students in class decided to take part as some students had already visited the park. 河海智,都银芝,余爱文,巴梅,铭绍,宋振华, 稀拉明,and myself took part in the field trip. We were joined by other students from B level and headed off towards the park in our BLCU travel coaches.

We entered an exhibit which featured the twelve animals from the Chinese Zodiac. These twelve animals were used as part of a clock fountain where at a specific hour, the water would spout out from the statue's mouth. Since I was born the year of the rat, I lined up first for a photo next to the rat statue. The dragon and monkey statues were also very impressive and visually pleasing.

宋振华 wanted to ride some boats on Fuhai Lake in Yuanmingyuan, so we found the boat rental location and secured two paddle boats for eight of us. Once we got onto the boats, hilarity ensued. The first boat consisted of 河海智, 巴梅,铭绍,and 宋振华, the second boat consisted of myself(黄明德), 都银芝,余爱文 and 稀拉明. The 'ergonomic' design of the paddle boat meant foreigners would be too tall to fully utilize their leg strength, such as in the case of a bicycle being too short for a tall man. We caught up to the second boat then followed their lead to go underneath a stone bridge which turned out to be a bad idea.

With the wind's assistance, we made haste and caught up with them but they instructed us to turn around as it was a dead end. We were in a sticky situation, our boat was almost beached then we struck stone siding while being blown by the strong gusty winds which happened to straighten out our boat then we finally made a beeline out of the little cove at full peddle power. All the while, the other boat was beached in the muddy shallows while attempting to exit the little cove. We pondered whether we should go back to assist them, but passing visitors ended up helped them out of the shallows. While returning to the boat launch, the other boat decided to become advantageous and tried their line to our boat resulting us tugging them. They became true pirates on the lake with 宋振华 and 巴梅 leading the charge. After some silliness, we docked our boats and continued to wander around Fuhai Lake.

After the boat rides, we walked on over to an area which contained a lot of the ruins. We encountered a maze like structure with a European styled pavilion in the middle. I was the only one to take part in the maze challenge and found it quite fun and amusing. Other visitors of the park found it frustrating and ended up climbing over the short walls and cheated their way to the center.

Wrapping up our trip, we visited the remains of the Old Summer Palace which was burned down by foreign armies in the 1860s. The remaining bits were primarily stone foundations as they represent the humility of a nation overrun by foreign invaders. I personally found the park to be very relaxing with the bodies of water and willow trees reminiscent of the classical gardens in southern China. I wish had more time to thoroughly wander through the remains of the Old Summer Palace and its green walkways, however 2 and half hours had already elapsed and I followed my class back to campus on the BLCU tour coaches.

Bonus photos: The Box Bar, a Canadian themed bar near Gulou. We had burgers, poutine, and buffalo wings!

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