BeiJing (IV) Touri Hotspots

Today finally a bit of real tourist sightseeing: Two major sights of BeiJing, one very famous, the other one yet to be discovered by a larger crowd of foreign tourists: Summer Palace and Fragrant Hills Park. I have made more pictures in this one day (86 in total) than in all other days in BeiJing together. No, don’t worry…you’ll get a small selection only. I mean…it’s just 2 sites, and especially about Summer Palace everything is said and shown already in thousands of books, so I cut myself short. Nothing really extraordinary happened today anyway. I took the subway out to XiZhiMen (西直门) and hoped to find one of the busses indicated by Lonely Planet. But forget it…XiZhiMen turned out to be a huge intersection of some highways or the like, the four exits of the subway put into the four corners of it, no bus map downstairs, so you don’t know which exit to take, and once you are out you are far away from any other exit. I got back in, took the relatively new metro line 13 (the half-circle extension in the north of BeiJing, which is so modern to have eletronic gates like in other place with more or less modern subways, and the transportation card I have certainly works great there) to WuDaoKou (五道口). From there should run lots of busses to the Summer Palace, but I couldn’t immeditely find a bus stop (again no local station map!), but by chance an empty taxi…so I got to the entrance by taxi. Took some while due to traffic jam.

Summer Palace (颐和园)

I treated myself to a German Audio Guide for 20 RMB, which was a very good choice. That device started talking about the major hotspots once your reached them automatically. In a few cases a bit erratic or not at all…but by and large a great help.

BJ_20070616_105826.jpg: The famous 17-arch bridge with the bronze ox in the front. My audio guide told me that this ox is for measuring the water level in the KunMing Lake, though I couldn’t follow why you would need an ox for it. But I did understand that if the water in KunMing Lake raises above a certain level (probably the podest of the ox?) then the Forbidden City down-town faces danger of flooding. Noting this early (at the ox…somewhere) allows for notifying the Forbidden City in advance to take whatever measures.

BJ_20070616_110735.jpg: Figures atop a tempel roof on the South Lake Island.

BJ_20070616_114523.jpg: I actually took the long way and ventured around KunMing Lake, returning along the artifical dam with bridges and pavillons, which you see in the back. Or which you have seen in HangZhou (杭州) already, from where the idea was copied. Though a nice walk it probably was a time management mistake: This kind of walking I should have better done in Fragrant Hills Park.

BJ_20070616_120742.jpg: The smaller lakes on the far side of the dam were covered to a large extend by water lilies.

BJ_20070616_113856.jpg: It so happened that over time I collected some pictures of people…sometimes coincidentally like here, where I was about to make a picture when the lady starte to pose, but I certainly took the chance 😉

BJ_20070616_121428.jpg: Or fully intentionally, like this group of three (the object of the picture-taking is a bit hidden in the grass to the very left), which put an extreme seriousness in their taking a picture. Also I like the man with hat and red fan.

BJ_20070616_122026.jpg: Here I could also not resist to catch the lady, whose dress color harmoizes with the flowers in front.

BJ_20070616_134107.jpg: This is a detail of a hip shot: I liked the blue, very original sun umbrella of the young lady in front.

BJ_20070616_131015.jpg: The refreshed roof paintings were phenomenal! Bright, clear colors, attention to the very detail, very well done! As an example here the right-hand staircase to the Buddhist Tenants Hall.

BJ_20070616_133130.jpg: A detail of the outside wall of the Buddhist Tempel at the very top of the Longevity Hill.

BJ_20070616_135230.jpg: Something I nearly missed, but well worth visiting: Harmonious Interest Garden.

Fragrant Hills Park (香山公园)

LP said there was a bus from Summer Palace to Fragrant Hills Park, but gave the wrong number. Anyway…after some searching in the mess in front of the Summer Palace’s entrance I found the right bus stop, and a minute later even the right side of the bus stop 😉 which even offered two different lines to the Fragrant Hills. I hopped on the next and ended up on a huge parking lot. All other people of the bus heading in all directions of the compass, leaving me more or less alone, no sign pointing to the park entrance. After checking two entrance-like streets, but finding only more parking lots (damn, these hills must be popular at times!) I asked 2 young ladies passing by, who even to their own fun had more problems pronouncing the name than me (Xiāng Shān Gōng Yuán…it isn’t that difficult…), but could tell me that I had to follow the street for another 500m up hill. Still no signs…but thanks to the young ladies I found it. The increasing density of shops of all kinds could have led me that way, too…

BJ_20070616_150735.jpg: It is a forest park along some hill sides, with a few man-made elements, especially scattered along its foot, but also scattered along a main axis leading up to the highest peak of the park. You can spend there as much time as you like…it’s huge!

BJ_20070616_153105.jpg: Well…3pm already by the time I arrived there. Damn…that was late. Haven’t made use of a chairlift for some time, had I…? 😉 So forget about walking up hill, which here definitely is possible. I would do a lot more walking tomorrow anyway. I paid the extraordinary 50 RMB (weekend price for single trip) and was lifted by cable car to the hills top. Even this way it was a good 15 minutes way! From the top you had a fantastic view around. But the haze did confuse my camera: All picture from there have too light colors. This here supposingly shows a pavillion in the far back, reached by a stone way on the hills shoulder.

BJ_20070616_153432.jpg: Here you can make out the many walking ways with which the forest park is lined (at least in the picture’s big version, click on it).

BJ_20070616_153754.jpg: I walked down, though, on ways which look like this. Many people were still going up hill. Of all kinds: Families, groups of young people, a few old men, sporty people who obviously took it as an exercise; footwear raising from high heals via sneakers and sport shoes to hiking boots. I most admired the old women collecting the empty plastic water bottles (can be returned somewhere for recycling, which adds to the ladies’ living), who also walked up and down the stairs in pursuit of their business; and all smiles if you empty a bottle for them and hand it over.

BJ_20070616_155146.jpg: In the distance a pavillon on a steep hill.

BJ_20070616_161954.jpg: Already very much down again I catched this boy while playing with the water in the sun’s light.

In the end I was down 1,5 hours after entering the park…hm…quite fast. I walked around a bit to see the other sights. But I was too silly (and too tired) to find the supposingly nice Azure Clouds Temple, and was only longing for a coffee…on the taxi ride in the morning to the Summer Palace I had seen a Starbucks. And I was even up to accept the fact that the store was located in a Microsoft building 😉

Didn’t want to figure out now from where the return busses start, and anyway I would have to walk these 1000m down-hill just to reach a potential area of bus stops. So I just took one of the cabs waiting at the entrance. The driver was one of the big-humming-bear type, whose Chinese was so unintelligible, that his attempt of a conversation ended after ‘I am German, no I don’t study and don’t work, I am on travel’. I dozed off several times anyway until reaching the caffeine infusion station.

Today’s Lesson: Proper time management helps spending time at the right places.

Categories: Asia, BeiJing

Originally Created: 06/16/2007 02:43:44 PM
Last Edited: 06/16/2007