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Published: August 28th 2010
After my hike yesterday, I decided to sleep in a bit before breakfast. It quickly became quite evident that my legs were displeased with me. They felt a little swollen and stiff. I hoped walking around would loosen them up a bit.
A guy from my hostel and I set out for the Summer Palace around 11am, arriving about an hour later. The Summer Palace was huge... and there were so many stairs. Up and up we climbed, stopping on numerous terraces to take in the breathtaking views, including a McD's. I'm sure the Empress Dowager would be pleased.
Most of the palace buildings were closed, which was a bit disappointing. Once we finished climbing up, we were able to go through and down, and then we were at the Tower of Buddhist Incense, which I was quite impressed by. We worked our way down to the water of Kunming Lake. It was quite hazy and felt like it would rain at any given moment, thus making the view less splendid; I coud barely see the boats on the lake, much less across the lake.
Strolling along the grey lake was still relaxing. It was peaceful--despite all the
people--and there were large trees. I think part of me liked it because there were no stairs.
Mindful of the time, we left around 3pm, just as it started to rain and then pour. We managed to hail a cab and drove to the Drum and Bell Towers, conveniently located near our hostel. Upon arrival my first thought should have been, "those tall towers might have a lot of stairs," but of course the thought never entered my mind. Up two of the steepest and tallest staircases I climbed, hanging onto both railings the whole way up; I think I pulled myself up more than I climbed.
The views of the city were worth it. Being able to gaze out over the patterns of the hutong rooftops, to landmarks, to what I think may have been the Forbidden City in the distance was worth every step. It was a spectacular experience. The drums and bell were pretty impressive, too. The towers date back to the time of the Mongols. I still have difficulty realizing a building can be that old.
We stopped for dinner at a Sichuan restaurant before heading out for a drink, feasting on a
dish of potatoes and eggplant and kung pao tofu. The bar had a Beatles tribute band and soon were were joined by a new group of friends from a vast array of countries. It was quite a night.
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