Our next big group adventure, planned by China Horizons, was an adventure at the Summer Palace. This massive complex was originally built hundreds of years ago but due to wars and fires, it was destroyed several times. The current manifestation was built in the early 1900s. It’s still beautiful, impressive, grand and so much more. Right when we walked through the gate and could see the lake and the giant pagoda on the hill behind it I said “I want one!”
We followed our tour guide in and around the buildings learning about the empress who lived there and put the emperor on house arrest. We learned about her “eunuch” and the concubine and eunuch role in the emperor’s house.
Part of the summer palace includes the long corridor, which is considered the longest in the world. It has more than 8,000 paintings, each of them different, on the panels. As we walked along the corridor, we heard some drums and singing, so we followed.
Up the hill was a small pavilion with lots of people in and around singing songs with a band accompanying and director leading. If you didn’t know the music, you could even buy a book with the songs to sing along. It was pretty cool and they sounded good too. Our guide told us they were old, retired people with nothing else to do so they do that. Imagine if all the retired people in America did that? Parks would be completely different.
Once we reached the other end of the lake and were below the giant pagoda, we found our way to the dragon boats. Next to their docking area was the marble boat built by the empress. We rode the dragon boat across the lake and docked next to a long bridge with many arches leading to an island. We had a few minutes to check it out before leaving the Summer Palace. Once again we found a large group of people with a band and director gathered singing.
Our next stop was a pearl “factory” or a place where they sell pearls and jewelry after telling you about how they harvest them and how to tell real from fake and so on. The guide at the factory even cut open a live oyster for us to see where pearls come from. There were about twenty or so pearls in the oyster and we each got one as a souvenir. Then they tried to sell us jewelry and trinkets with pearls.