The Summer Palace and Sleeper Train

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Dec 15, 2011

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Where I stayed
6 Berth Sleeper Train

Flag of China  ,
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

13:30 Ah I had a nice long sleep today, I wasn't up until 10am and then packed up my stuff including my clean and dry laundry. I'd missed breakfast though. Nevermind.
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. Each one with a painting of a scene with people or animals, or even just a picture of flowers or buildings. They have all been restored as the colours are so vibrant, and it really is a credit. I only wish that our country could be so patriotic and retain and be proud of our own heritage without fear of offending someone as they so often are afraid of! I'm finding the 'freedom' here a real breath of fresh air. People riding bikes and scooters without helmets, walking up walkways with knee high bannisters without additional bars in case someone falls, hot street-food. Life is more interesting when there is risk. Even crossing the road is a risk since no one pays any attention to red traffic lights, even less attention to the green man, and if you're on a zebra crossing with no pedestrian lights then it's a battle of wills between you and the driver. I have become our lollipop lady, even in front of jade! Wading out into the traffic on a zebra crossing and putting my hands up to stop the cars, often accompanied by shouting "the man is green so stop trying to run me over you bastard!", with the others scuttling across behind me. I'm not afraid!
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.
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Sm*arti*e on

lollipop lady ...... lol lol lol too funny!!! And i can SO picture you doing this!

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