Summer Palace – Fall 2010

So I’d been very reluctant to go to the Summer Palace, not for any particular reason that I can actually verbalize at the moment. Maria had been wanting to go for a while, and there was always one reason or another why it wasn’t a good time that day. But we finally went, and, all in all that is, it was a wonderful and lovely time and I even remarked while there that “I wonder why I was so reluctant to go?” I mean, in hindsight, probably the crowds, for there were lots of people, and I never like them, and this country’s unnatural obsession with palaces. It’s much easier to get there than it used to be. They had extended the subway system all the way to the north gate, which, again, though convenient, was also unfortunately in that it spat you out at the very northern tip of the park, behind the big hill with the big palace on it that I never went to nor had any desire to ever go to. I mean, you’ve seen one ancient Chinese palace, you’ve seen them all. And it’s labyrinthian in scope, impossible to get to the big lake that in my mind is the highlight of the park. At one point, we were but a window away from it, but unable to get to the other side. Very sad really. It was also a fun day of eating different kinds of street food, including sausage on a stick, cold rice noodles with sesame sauce, Royal “Cheese” (basically soured milk with a kind of cheesy after taste), what we decided to call “hot dog buns without the hot dog, but with sweet red bean paste in it,” soft serve ice cream, and more sausage on a stick. The park is also huge, and by the time we had finished and exited at the southern gate, we were very far away from where we were, very far away from a subway stop, and very far away from anything recognizable actually. We were at the 4th Ring Road, and wandered around a bit on foot before finally finding a taxi. And there are no pictures of this, but we saw an old man playing with one of those Chinese tops, the one with the 2 sticks connected by a string that he wrapped around this weird looking, thing…hmmm…hard to describe actually, they were popular in the States for a bit, you spun them, threw them in the air, then caught them? Anyone have any idea what I’m talking about? Either way, it was a spectacular demonstration actually, much better than the ones in the States, and when it spun it made a weird croaking kind of noise that we originally mistook for frogs croaking, which is why we sought the noise out in the first place. Again, all in all a great day, and we went and saw a movie afterwards (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), and maybe I should take this as indication that I should be less stringent in my following of my irrational non-desires to go to parks and tourist spots in this country seeing as I end up liking them a lot (read Chaoyang Park). And now, photos!

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