After calling it an early night and getting some rest we decided to set off for the Summer Palace. We took another local bus (I really recommend being brave and taking these buses, you can't beat a 1 yuan bus fare!) and just when we started to get nervous that we'd gone too far we were there! We had a slightly expensive (which meant the total came to almost $15) lunch of cashew chicken and sweet and sour pork that was so delicious that it was worth the inflated price. I was feeling a bit under the weather (stomach issues- maybe I accidentally drank some local water?) so we took it slow.
It was a bit hazy and smoggy for the last few days of the trip so it was challenging to take nice pictures. I gave it a shot and you can look at all of them here. I want to live in the Summer Palace. It's huge and gorgeous and is probably bigger than the town I grew up in. There was no way that we could have seen the whole thing that day because we didn't go there early enough, I was dragging my butt a bit and it's massive. In fact, we didn't get to see one of the featured sites since those close at 5 pm (the Palace stays open later though). What we did see was amazing so it was okay we didn't see it all.
The Summer Palace has a massive lake in it and you can rent boats/take a dragon boat ride. We decided not to since we were feeling cheap but it looked like a lot of fun. We got to see a lot of museum like areas throughout the palace. Some things we saw were Ming vases (honestly some of the other pottery was more impressive to me) and the first Olympic gold medal. Cool. We also got to watch some traditional dancers and listen to some live traditional Chinese music. If you go to those links you can see the videos I took.
Near the end of the day they let us into one of the sites just as they were closing the gates. Literally we punched our ticket and behind us they bolted everything up. I couldn't understand at first what the big deal was. Then some old guy starts waving at us to come up some stairs. Which led to a few more stairs.
Yeah, try sprinting up those after you spent hours and hours walking in the hot Beijing sun. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. At the top their was another temple and a nice employee who spoke English and explained the significance of the Buddha inside the temple. It was nice but the view was better. It was lucky that we got their when we did because this woman also told us where the bus stop was (we were so far away from where we entered and I really didn't want to backtrack) and suggested a few buses we could take. As mentioned, the view was spectacular!
It was a bit treacherous climbing down from the temple and getting to the exit but we managed without falling to our deaths. We found the bus but unfortunately we got nervous and jumped off a stop too soon and therefore had to walk about a kilometer to the subway station. D'oh!