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Published: October 1st 2011
We awoke on the second morning in Beijing feeling slightly worse for wear. The lonely planet had mentioned a few places you could get a foot massage for when the uneven Beijing concrete footpaths take a toll on your body. We both dismissed this comment initially, but we now realised we probably should have found a hotel located right next door to one of them! At least we weren’t the only travellers to have woken up feeling like this! We usually walk a lot overseas, and neither of us had ever ended up with sore legs, knees, ankles and feet like this – ouch. We decided on a nice gentle activity for our day considering we were both in pain… the Summer Palace. The Palace is well connected by the subway, so we set off walking again to the subway, then from the subway to the Palace.. We each borrowed one of the automatically activated audio guides and then made our way into the Summer Palace Grounds. The Summer Palace, historically a royal garden, was enlarged and embellished by Emperor Qianlong in the 18th Century and became a retreat from the Beijing heat. Various Emperors after him added elaborate buildings and
a navy base and continued to use it as a royal residence until about 1900. In the centre of the grounds is a massive manmade lake, which is surrounded by gardens with walking paths, bridges and various beautiful buildings. We decided make the most of being there and walk around the entire lake so we set off at break neck speed towards the quieter Southern part of the lake. After a number of pit stops to rest our aching legs and buy icy poles to help us get through the pain and heat, we made it to the northern part of the complex which is where most of the buildings are. The whole Summer Palace has been meticulously restored / maintained so we’re not entirely sure how much of the complex is original and how much has been rebuilt. Nevertheless, the buildings are absolutely gorgeous and by the time we climbed up to the pagoda on top of the hill the haze had cleared enough so that we were able to enjoy the view.
After almost five hours of exploration (and pain!) we made our way back to our hotel where we collapsed on the bed to rest our
weary legs, before grabbing dinner at a Uyghur restaurant near our hotel.
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