Part 2 of 2 from Beijing Summer Palace
23.12.2012 - 07.01.2013
Beijing, December 27th 2012
Music from a black recorder brought my footsteps to these dancing women. It wasn't the sound of hi-tech. I knew it before noticing that black square thing between their bags. I am not sure whether you can find such a thing in my country. But, that doesn't matter.
The music was so beautiful and these women danced joyfully, for the sake of dancing. It was a sure thing they didn't mean to do a performance, because this was a place rather in the corner behind a building, distant to where visitors use to be. There was no tin or box or hat turned upside down to put coins in. There were only the 3 of us there. And, they invited me to join in!
People like them, I always admire.
Oh yeah, I forgot to show you the pathway along the lake. That white 'ground' on the left is the frozen lake. Near the Seventeen-Arch Bridge there were lots of tourists, even in this freezing air. Tour groups from my country were among them. But as I continued following the path Westwards, lesser and lesser foreigners were in sight. There were locals only, and very few. Twice I met a someone jogging along the path. Did he really meant to do exercise or was he actually cold?
Among all bridges, Jade Belt Bridge is my favorite. It looks so typically Chinese.
The next destination I wished for was Suzhou Street, because that's included in my one-pass ticket (50 yuan). It would be a pity if I don't got there, I thought. Following the guide on Summer Palace's website, buying a one-pass ticket would be more economical than buying a ticket for each. Thinking that I had the whole day, I made a plan for Wenchang Gallery and Suzhou Street, which aren't included in the entrance ticket fee.
At first I didn't look at the guide map I got, because I simply wanted to follow my happy feet to wherever looked interesting. That's my custom everytime I come to a complete new place.
As I had mentioned in previous post, Summer Palace to me is the most foreigner-friendly tourist site I know in China. Besides the guide map given at the ticket office, every here and there were signposts giving directions to the places mentioned on the map. Now, I started to consult my guide map. Where is Suzhou Street? Hmmm, it's at the North Gate. Which direction is the North Gate? I examined the signposts.
However, maps and signposts are of little use if the reader's mind is absent. I even can't identify exactly now how I had been thinking. How could I and how come! In short, although on my map it was clearly written both in English and Chinese "West" and "East", all the time I thought East was on the left side of the map and West was on the right side. Hence, I walked and walked to the opposite direction of what I had intended to.
"Yes, West!" nodded the young man at the ticket entrance of West Gate.
Winnie the Pooh would have looked for a fallen tree trunk to sit on and think. There was no fallen tree trunk. So I sat on a bench facing the toilet. West?? I stared at my map. As if the toilet had waken me up, I got my sense back. West? Yes, West! Sober.
You don't understand, do you? Neither do I.
I went to the toilet to do business. Maybe I should clear up my mind. Aye. The toilet was clean, had a door, and a lock. There was also a big strong hook on the door for me to hang my camera backpack.
These are some shots from my lost-being moments. That's Silk Bridge on top left. On top right is the bridge that leaded to the toilet. The river lake on this part wasn't frozen. Maybe because it's close to the toilet. Urine is warm, you know. On bottom right is the snowed pathway. Unlike the traffic road downtown, the snow here stays white.
I know you think I'm being absent minded again. No, I'm not. But snow is, white! Yes, it is. But in China, I don't know is it because the engine or the gas of the cars, after being driven on a couple of times, unless the snow is very thick, it turns blackish. If you think of taking pictures of a snow covered street in downtown area, do it right away after snowfall.
I gasped. Is this man a Harbiner? Or is he preparing for the Harbin Winter Swimming? Another man beside the river cheered him up. Or was he actually giving instructions? Was he actually the mentor?
No, I'm still not a fan of cats. But this one is such a bundle of fur. If there weren't eyes and nose, it wouldn't look like an animal. By the way, what's wrong with this cat's eye? It's left eye is bleeding. I zoomed in the preview on my camera to make sure. Yes, it does look like blood. Oh poor kitty.
I had late lunch at a nearby canteen. They didn't serve cooked meal. So I went for a cup of the Chinese legendary people's instant noodle. Surprisingly, instead of feeling warmer after a meal, I felt colder. But the journey to Suzhou Street must go on. The ticket is paid.
Back at Heralding Spring Pavilion. I saw few photographers getting ready with their tripod waiting for sunset. Undoubtedly, it would be a magnificent sunset shot above the frozen lake's horizon. But Suzhou Street is still there ahead.
It says "Ancient Tree (Level 2)". How ancient is that? I wonder.
It's called Hall of Serenity. To me it looks more than serene. Forgotten?
No toilet nearby. Hence, frozen. Aha. That's Back Lake.
My guide map says about Suzhou Street as follow:
The Street in the middle section of Back Lake runs for over 300 meters. It has 64 shops, 14 gateways or archways and 8 small bridges. The shop assistants wearing clothes in the style of the Qing Dynasty warmly welcome customers from all over the world. The street really looks like a South China fair.
Hellooo... I've come from over the world. Who is going to welcome me?
Hellooo... what time is it?
16:32. Ooops, the ticket says Summer Palace is opened from 9:00 - 16:00.
These men were spraying the ice with water from the hose. What for? Is that urine? Aha.
I exited North Gate, and... ?? Isn't that the tunnel to the subway? So?? So, remember the beginning of my story in previous post? I could have entered from this gate this morning. However, this is how I had made today's journey. From the subway station which was just next to North Gate, I walked all the way to East Gate -- outside the palace. From North to East, that's like one quarter of the whole palace circle. And then, inside the palace, I walked all the way up to West Gate and a little further. When I got my senses back, I wanted to continue to North Gate from the West side, but it seemed that the pathway was closed. I couldn't go further. So, I turned back heading East and then Southward. You bet, I had overdone my exercise!
This is how I comforted myself. Number one, if you hadn't misread the map, you would surely aim to exit from East Gate, because you had entered from there. If you did, you would anyway walk back to South Gate -- outside the palace -- because that's where the subway station is. Number two, if you had enter from the South Gate, you might not get that nice map, because the ticket office at South Gate looks such a small one. All foreigners on tourist buses enter from East Gate.
"But if I had entered from South Gate, Suzhou Street wouldn't have been closed. Thus my one-pass ticket won't turn useless." I argued.
"If you had wandered on Suzhou Street first, you would have not enough time to explore until Jade Belt Bridge. And then you would have to walk back to South Gate anyway, because there's where the subway station is. Come on, what's more of your interest? Shops or scenery?"
I left my camera backpack at the hotel and took G12 only. My goal was McDonald's. Suddenly I was craving for something Western. I chose a bus which route I had never been to. Bakery! I got off the bus, bought some bread, and boarded the same bus...
... until I found McDonald's. Surprisingly, the restaurant was crowded. Maybe the freezing air that night had turned Western to many. Slurppp... hamburger, french fries, and hot coffee... McDonald's had never tasted that great.