Summer Palace

It’s summer here.  There’s a palace here.  Another of Beijing’s delights is the Summer Palace.  You can catch the subway there, it’s near the northern end of line four.  We had heard that 3 hours is enough time to see it.  It’s not.  You should really take a picnic and enjoy the tranquillity of the west side of Kunming Lake and the view of the Hill of Longevity, whilst doing so.  The day we visited threatened rain, but as it was so hot we didn’t mind.  Unfortunately, we either missed getting a map or there wasn’t one available.  The theme continued throughout.  No really informative maps to be seen anywhere.  Just white lines on boards with destinations and distances.  Needless to say, the Summer Palace is set on almost 3 square kilometres of land.  There are boats criss-crossing the lake at various points and it is fairly obvious where they are going.  There are a plethora of buildings and monuments to take in.  There are a lot of people to contend with, 44,000 on the day we visited.  It has a great contrast of crowds of people and areas to find seclusion, plus there are a tonne of people fishing to watch.  As I said it threatened rain; and rain it did, but it really only added to the whole experience.  It’s a classic mix of a great park and tourist mecca, but worth the trip.  It is very similar to West Lake in Hangzhou though, so if you have to settle on one or the other, Hangzhou has the lot and more to offer, as far as lakes go.