I spent the day today at Beijing’s Summer Palace. This is located about an hour’s subway ride north of the Forbidden City and is where the Qing dynasty emperors retreated to get away from the heat of the summer. It was a working palace, but it also leaned heavily toward entertainment and diversion for the court. There are many buildings with different functions spread over the large grounds. Perhaps the most recognizable is the Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha (first photo). The views from up there are apparently quite good, but there was so much smog today that I could barely make out the little boats on the lake. More enjoyable to me were some of the buildings that I had read about. The Marble Boat is a party pavilion built in the shape of a side-wheeler riverboat. The Long Corridor runs along the lakefront and has 14,000 individual scenes painted along the roof beams. And one of the stages where Chinese Opera was performed for the emperor is beautifully painted and maintained. I thought that the Summer Palace might be less crowded than the Forbidden City, but it was just as busy. One fellow was not put out
by the swarms of people. He was writing calligraphy using water on the paving stones. I had heard that this is something that is done here, although I don’t know why. I stood and watched him for a bit and I’m glad to have seen it.