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Beijing - Day Two

Day two in Beijing did not go as planned, as The Princess was exhausted after climbing the Great Wall during the day and walking the lenght of Tiananmean streets at night the day before. The alarm clock was set at 8am, but she rose at 12pm instead.

She took a cab to the nearest restaurant, the famous Quanjude Kao Ya (roast duck). She ordered half a duck (the minimum one could order) and stir-fried asparagus. Food portion in Beijing is huge, meant to be shared rather than for individual. Beijing food tends to be oily as well, so remember to request for less oil when ordering.

Service in Quanjude is prompt. 5 minutes after ordering, the dishes arrived. However, The Princess was a tad disappointed as the duck was not carved at the table, instead it was carved at a table place at the front of the dining hall.

Look at the glistening fats - Yummy!

The way to enjoy kao ya

After all the hype and good review of Quanjude, The Princess is sad to report that the kao ya does not live up to it's reputation. The skin of the duck was not crispy enough, but the underlying layer of fat was not too thick, so good news for those who are health-concious.

The correct way to eat kao ya is as follow:
  • First, loosen a piece of the dough roll (something like spring roll skin).
  • Spread some sweet sauce on the skin and add garnishes such as scallion.
  • Proceed to place few pieces of the kao ya on the skin and roll it up.
  • Pop into your mouth and enjoy!

As half a duck is enough for 2-3 people, but since The Princess was only alone, she had no choice but to place more pieces of the duck on the skin. Normally, only 2-3 pieces are sufficient, but what the heck, she couldn't possibly finish the duck going by this way. No wonder the waiter was giving her weird look and her incorrect way of holding the chopsticks didn't help matter either.

The bill came to a whopping CNY 180. Defitinely not worth the money as the average price of a whole kao ya is about CNY 30-60. Oh well, next time she'd give Quanjude a miss and try out Liqun Kao Ya instead, IF she could find her way through the maze of hutong.

After making sure her cholesterol level shot sky high, she made her way to Yiheyuan (Summer Palace). Entrance fee was CNY 30 (CNY 60 for all-inclusive ticket). Outside the entrance, there were many tour guides available for minimal fees should you need one. As the Summer Palace is so big and almost every single entity in it has special meanings, it is recommed to hire a tour guide so you could cover the whole of Summer Palace in the most strategic manner and learn about the various story and symbolism of every stone, pillar, statue, temple, gate and whatnots. They could double up as camera man, too!

The Princess entered through the North Palace Gate and arrived at Suzhou Street, modelled on the town of Suzhou in Zhejiang Province.

The North Palace Gate

Suzhou Street is known as the 'Venice of East'

Eunuchs and maids of honour used to playact as pedders, customers and shop assistants to mimic market activities whenever the imperial family were there for summer respite

Proceeding further, the magnificent Tibetan style temple loomed. Here one would find the amazing rock garden.

Tibetan style temple

Green lush garden

Different hues of green is soothing to the eyes

Lots of pavillion to rest your weary legs

The Princess finds the scene below....weird. She was half expecting to find a royal official wearing robe with tocang (braided poytail), instead there sat a gwailo sipping tea.

The Marble Boat was completed in 1893 and is said to be built by Empress Dowager Cixi using the money squandered for the creation of a modern Chinese Navy.

The Marble Boat

Stones in weird shape are displayed throughout Summer Palace, making gardens look even more interesting

Running parallel to the shore of Kunming Lake is the Long Corridor. This is a covered walkway 795 yards long and has over 14,000 Chinese paintings on the beams and crossbeams. These paintings depict scenes from West Lake in Huang Zhou, episodes from Chinese classic literature, flowers, architecture and landscapes.

The Long Corridor

Scene painted on one of the beams of The Long Corridor

Pots of colourful chrysanthemum displayed along The Long Corridor

Pavallion connecting The Long Corridor

The balustrades run along the Kunming Lake

The Kunming Lake covers an area of nearly 300 hectares, about 3/4 of the Summer Palace. Dragon boats dotted the lake, ferrying visitors across to Nanhudao (Southern Lake Garden) and the 17 Arch Bridge.

The dragon boat

An elegant pair of lion cast in bronze guards a Buddhist temple complex nearby. On the right is a male lion with its front right paw resting on a ball, symbolizing imperial power extended worldwide.

On the left side is a lioness with its front left paw on a lion cub, indicating a prosperous growing family and the never-ending sucession of imperial lineage.

As it was getting late, The Princess decided to take a dragon boat across to Nanhudao to save time. She barely covered half of Summer Palace!

Posing in front of the dragon boat

As the sun started sinking lower and lower into the horizon, Kunming Lake was wrapped in a mist of serenity. Soft, gentle lapping of the waves turned the lake into shimmering curtain as the sun threw its last ray on earth. The balmy hills beyond were painted in soft water-colour shades of muted green.

Pagoda of Buddhist Virtue (Foxiangge) sits high on the Longevity Hill

This photo of leaves taken against the direction of sun creates an interesting lace pattern

The Dragon King Temple looms as the dragon boat approaches

An interesting wall of rocks

The Seventeen Arch Bridge (Shiqikongjiao) connects Nanhudau with the mainland. There are 544 carved stone lions along the railings, each one different from the others.

The Seventeen Arch Bridge

The many exotic creatures guarding the Seventeen Arch Bridge, believed to ward off evil spirits

The Grand Pavillion

It's a pity The Princess could not finish exploring the Summer Palace. However, she promises to return next time if she ever go to Beijing again. The Summer Palace is truly a museum of traditional Chinese gardening, although she feels a few of the temples could be given restoration as the features are fading fast.

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