Matsimitsu

Day Three

China - Summer Palace & The Forbidden City


The first stop of today is the Summer Palace. As today is a Saturday, it is a little bit busier the normal.

Beijing

The first three days of this trip we spent in Beijing, visiting various attractions.

The first day we visited the Temple of Heaven, just south of our hotel next to the Forbidden City.

The second day were on a guided tour to the Juyong Pass to see the Great Wall of China. After the wall, we went to see the Ming Dynasty Tombs.

Today, we're going to the "main" attractions of the city, the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City.

Temple of Heaven Juyong Pass Forbidden City Summer Palace Ming Dynasty Tombs
Canals at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Canals at the Summer Palace in Beijing Canals at the Summer Palace in Beijing

As with every monument you can buy an pass to enter the park, but that doesn't mean you can enter everything in the park. To do that you need to buy an all-access pass. With this we were able to walk down here by the water, yay!

Canals at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Canals at the Summer Palace in Beijing Canals at the Summer Palace in Beijing

Even though it was still early, the crowds were already building up.

Entrance to the Summer Palace in Beijing Stairs leading into the Summer Palace in Beijing Crowds at the Summer Palace in Beijing

Longevity Hill

The complex starts with the beautifull canals, then it's a (small) hike up the mountain, and finally you descend to the lake where most of the structures are located.

Roof ornaments at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Roof ornaments at the Summer Palace in Beijing Roof ornaments at the Summer Palace in Beijing

At the top you're rewarded with a view of the outskirts of Beijing.

Stairs leading up to the top of the Summer Palace in Beijing Structure at the Summer Palace in Beijing View towards Beijing from the Summer Palace in Beijing

Kunming lake

The lake is huge and since we were only here for the morning, we didn't walk around it, but instead explored the structures nearby.

Gate at Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace in Beijing Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace in Beijing Long gallery at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Tower/Pagode at the Summer Palace in Beijing Long Gallery at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Kunming Lake at the the Summer Palace in Beijing

Hall of dispelling clouds

Originally a temple, it was burned down in 1860 and later rebuild as a bedchamber for Empress Dowager Cixi. When she moved in, she became ill and thought it was because it was so close to the Tower of Buddhist Incense (below) and it's Buddhist territory. So she moved to another building and only used the Hall of Dispelling Clouds to receive tributes and congratulations on her birthday.

Hall of dispelling clouds at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Hall of dispelling clouds at the Summer Palace in Beijing Door ornament at the the Summer Palace in Beijing
Hall of dispelling clouds at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Hall of dispelling clouds at the Summer Palace in Beijing Hall of dispelling clouds at the Summer Palace in Beijing

Tower of Buddhist Incense

Built on Longlevity Hill, the Tower of Buddhist Incense was built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong and is a religious structure.

Tower of Buddhist Incense at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Ornaments at the Summer Palace in Beijing Ornaments at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Tower of Buddhist Incense at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Bridge at the Summer Palace in Beijing Ornaments at the Summer Palace in Beijing

We didn't climb to the top of the Tower of Buddhist Incense. We still felt the Great Wall hike in our legs, and time was running out.

Gardens at the Summer Palace in Beijing Stream at the Summer Palace in Beijing
Crowds at the the Summer Palace in Beijing Crowds near the exit of the Summer Palace in Beijing
Dragon at the Summer Palace in Beijing Exit of the Summer Palace in Beijing

Being Dutch as we are we decided to not spend the 3 Yuan on a bike ride to the subway station and walk over there ourselves. After a couple of minutes we figured out we were heading the wrong way. It took us a good 15 minutes to get to the subway station. We later calculated that 3 Yuan is not even 40 euro cents...

Bicycles in Beijing

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is the place to visit when in Beijing. And it still being a Saturday, we could expect some crowds.

Entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing
Entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing Entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing

But first lunch! We made the mistake to already enter the complex, so it was either Western fast-food or Chinese fast-food. Chinese fast-food it is.

Now this was some next-level fancy stuff, it was self-heating rice. You'd buy this rice meal and you get it cold. The container is actually two containers, an outer and an inner, where the food is housed. You break a seal in the outer container and chemicals mix, heating up your meal. When you buy it, they break the seal for you, and they are able to serve a huge amount of customers very fast. Brilliant!

Food at the the Forbidden City in Beijing - rice with vegetables and meat

After finally figuring out where to get the tickets, we moved on to the entrance.

the Forbidden City in Beijing
Map of the Forbidden City in Beijing View of the the Forbidden City in Beijing
Wide-angle view of the Forbidden City in Beijing

The Forbidden City is where the emperor lived during his reign and dates back to 1406 when Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty decided to build an imperial palace in Beijing

View of the the Forbidden City in Beijing

The first part of the complex consists of large squares surrounded with buildings.

View of the entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing from the back

I mentioned the busy Saturday thing, right?

Crowds at the Forbidden City in Beijing Structure at the Forbidden City in Beijing
Door ornaments at the Forbidden City in Beijing Ornaments at the Forbidden City in Beijing

The Forbidden City lies in the centre of Beijing, but inside you hear nothing of the busy streets. The only way you are reminded you're in the city is by the skyscrapers that pop up every once in a while.

Roof view of the Forbidden City in Beijing
Roof view of the Forbidden City in Beijing Beijing towers in the background of the Forbidden City in Beijing

The second part has more alleys and backstreets, filled with even more buildings.

the Forbidden City in Beijing
Lion at the Forbidden City in Beijing Lions at the Forbidden City in Beijing
the Forbidden City in Beijing
Back alleys at the Forbidden City in Beijing Back alleys at the Forbidden City in Beijing
Rock structure at the Forbidden City in Beijing

There are endless places to wander around and you could easily spend the day there. At some point in the afternoon we reached the exit.

Back exit at the Forbidden City in Beijing

You used to be able to exit at all gates, but because of the crowds, the Forbidden City is a one-way deal. This means street vendors know exactly where you'll be. .

Hustlers at the Forbidden City in Beijing

Since our hotel was next to the entrance, we had to circle the complex to get back.

Outside wall of the Forbidden City in Beijing
Wall of the Forbidden City in Beijing Moat around the Forbidden City in Beijing

After having done mostly tours and only walked to the nearest subway stop, we finally get to see some of the non-touristy Beijing.

Bycles and scooter in Beijing
Alley in Beijing Alley in Beijing
Houses in Beijing Public bathrooms in Beijing

Near our hotel, at the front of the palace, things were fancy again.

Stream near the Forbidden City in Beijing
Potted plants in Beijing Man writing with water in Beijing
Man resting near garden in Beijing

After freshing up in the hotel, we set out for food.

Night view of the wall surrounding the Forbidden City in Beijing Tunnel with broken chair in Beijing

The forbidden city is located at the People's Square with lots of government buildings.

Night view of the entrance of the Forbidden City in Beijing
Night view of the People's square in Beijing Night view of the People's square in Beijing

We ducked into a random side-alley and found some tables on the sidewalk outside a restaurant. With hand and feet we managed to order food and we got the best Chicken Cashew meal I have ever eaten. It was _so_ good.

Half-way in the meal it started raining and together with the staff and other diners we moved everything inside. It might not sound like much, but it's these little things that makes travel awesome

Night view near the People's square in Beijing

After the delicious meal we wandered around some more and finally got back to the hotel for a nightcap in the hotel gardens.

Hotel garden Forbidden City Inn, Beijing