The Summer Palace and Sleeper Train
Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
297Trip End Dec 15, 2011
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We met the group at midday and took the subway to the Summer Palace. It's been a beautiful sunny and warm day, and far less windy than yesterday which caused me windburn. My calves are just as sore as yesterday which is a shame as I hoped they'd have eased off a bit. They feel like they should look like arnie schwarzeneggers after all the hard work they must have done to be this achy!
14:02 We've come to the summer palace today, its meant to be a bit cooler here in summer. There are huge gardens and rockerys and a huge lake with an island on it with a bridge to it. Around the lake there are trees neatly lined along the shore line, with paving stones and pebbles all set in forming shapes and words. There are also long wooden corridors. As i walk through the many buildings and long corridors, I've noticed that although the structure and the colours of the buildings are all starting to look the same, the detail painted in the eaves is unique and detailed, colourful and beautiful
14:41 We walked up yet more steps (im so over steps and hills at this point) and came up to the Thousand Hand Buddha - it had 24 hands in actual fact, and 12 heads. They do tend to exaggerate, later we went over the 500 lion bridge. There could only have been less than 100 small statues of lions all lined up across the top
One slightly bizarre thing we have seen here is what babies wear... They don't appear to wear nappies and instead wear trousers with a massive split up the crotch, entirely exposing their bottoms! They are old enough to walk but I'm not sure they're old enough to be potty trained! It's just quite an odd thing to see!
16:07 We walked slowly around the lake. It was warm and sunny and the views across to both the summer palace and the surrounding hills were breathtaking. I could have just sat on a bench all day and gazed at it. The hills in the distance were ever progressing lighter shades, and there was a very tall stacked shrine type building on top of one.
We came across a man doing tai chi and a group of tourists attempting to follow his moves. They all looked cack handed and awkward and made what is a flowing set of smooth, graceful moves into some horrible contorted poses. The visual equivalent of nails being scraped across a board after watching the teachers grace.
18:10 We've been walking for 6 hours! As I missed breakfast, and lunch was supposedly after the summer palace, which I guessed would only be a couple of hours, not 6, we are now having dinner, which is so welcome and tastes sooo good and restorative
20:50 We left for the train station at 8pm, taking taxis which cost barely anything. Once there we put our bags down and waited for check in time. Someone suggested a mcdonalds milkshake, I confess I thought this was a great idea, so 6 of us went off and got a mix of food and drinks. I tried to take a photo of the menu but the manager said I wasn't allowed! No idea why!
23:12 We're on a 6 berth sleeper train, there's no door but there are walls. There are only 2 of our group per cabin, everyone on a bottom bunk- seems they couldn't organise putting us all in one cabin each. I do have the bottom bunk at least and am quite used to these sleeper trains, so I shall sleep fine. The other guys in our cabin are quiet and not space invaders, so we're good. Me and Fiona are room buddies always it seems.
Best thing - walking by the lake
Worst thing - having to walk and climb more steps
Most beautiful- I'll never forget that view across the lake towards the summer palace all surrounded by trees.