Chinese Emperors were not playing around when they ordered their palaces built. While I visited the Summer Palace in Beijing, I kept wondering what would have been like to have that kind of power, money and privilege that only a few families have been able to maintain through the years- most notably the Royal Family of England.
What would have been like to see something so grandiose in your city being built when indoor plumbing had not yet been invented? It’s mind blowing how grandiose these projects were and how amazing it is that they still stand today.
The Summer Palace in Beijing started being built in 1153 and is so vast it covers 1 sq mile. It takes at least a half a day to see several buildings, but I think you could easily spend a day or two here if you wanted to and not be able to see the entire park. The main lake alone is completely excavated by hand by man. The rock and sand were used to build Longevity Hill which you see on the pictures below.
Besides the wonderful architecture, the park provides a great insight into the daily life of locals. You can find the old ladies dancing in most green areas, people playing games and young couples on dates. You can take a boat ride across the lake, people watch or even have a conversation with a lady in a language you don’t speak, as it was my case.
The conversation in question was a sales pitch for the boat rides. I had stopped in front of a map of the lake, since maps are hard to come by in attractions in Asia and while I tried to situate myself, this sales lady started giving me her sales pitch for a boat ride. I kept nodding at her to see when she would realize I didn’t speak a word of Mandarin, but to the end I don’t think she did. I just nodded and moved on when her sales pitch was over. I didn’t understand a word she said to me, but I understood the context of the conversation. It intrigued me that we can tell so much by body language and situational awareness. Have you experienced similar encounters in your travels? What was the situation and outcome? I am super curious if it happens more often than we realize…
Anyway, I hope you enjoy these pictures of the Summer Palace!