Our third day in China was hot. Like, the weather was so warm. We spent the morning at a pearl factory, learning to tell the difference between real and fake pearls (real pearls make a scratchy feel when rubbed across glass, fake ones do not). It was an entertaining experience and I got two rings and two pairs of earrings, but the real fun started afterwards!
We got to go to the Summer Palace!
The Summer Palace is located in Beijing (seriously, this city is MASSIVE), and is consider a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a massive imperial garden (meaning it was for the emperor) and covers over 700 acres of land.
It is no longer reserved for the royals of China, and while we were there the place was packed with tourists and Chinese locals enjoying themselves and having a leisurely day.
One thing I saw that looked so cool was a man practicing his traditional Chinese writing with a water-paint on the sidewalk. He was so graceful with his strokes, it was captivating to watch.
The story of how the garden became is fascinating: the park was built by hand. As the Emperor of the time would travel around China, he would fall in love with places and have replicas built BY HAND when he returned. He seemed like a jerk.
Longevity Hill is a man-made mountain that he had dug out, after admiring a similar mountain in another part of China. It was built circa 1150. Where did the get the dirt to build this hill? Well as you would have it, they also built A LAKE.
Kunming Lake covers roughly 3/4 of the park (so 540 acres), and was dug out by hand. By the Chinese people. Because the Emperor liked the West Lake in Hanzhou so he had it imitated. I’m calling it: the Chinese Emperor’s were dicks.
But some good did come from their demands, as now the lake is super enjoyable to spend a day on. You can rent paddleboats that hold 4 people and ride around on the expansive water. You can not swim in the lake though.
Our group chose to do a Dragon Boat ride though.
I couldn’t get over how many people the dragon boats could hold! It had our group, plus two french groups for a 30 minute ride around the lake. The breeze felt great, and the boat was so pretty!
From the boat, we were also about the see the Tower of Buddhist Incense, a place where buddhists could go and pray.
It was a beautiful park that I would have loved to have had more time to stroll around and explore, but alas we had more places to go see!