Monday, May 11, 2015

Day Trip Around Beijing: Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Jade, Great Wall of China

A Rushed Morning


Ugg! I set my alarm for earlier than the standard wake up call at 6:45 AM, but it didn't go off!

Bar in the Hotel
OK, it could be user error, but I didn't start my day off right because it started in a rush. Before the bus left I needed to have things ready to take with me (journal, travel information, layers of clothes), and I have to get dressed for the day, and I wanted a good breakfast. But somehow I got through it all.

Because this is a big hotel breakfast is a mishmash of American, British, and Chinese options. For example, hard boiled eggs soaked in tea, egg rolls, and fruit are among the many choices.

And so far, Rebecca and I haven't had much trouble getting our coffee fixes - If you've read more of my blogs you'll realize we are over-caffeinated as often as possible. We brought instant coffee but haven't had to use it very often.

Summer Palace


It's hard to get a view without people, but
I managed!
The first stop today was the Summer Palace. Brrr! It was overcast, windy, and cold. Glad I brought extra layers.

Marble boathouse at the Summer Palace
The palace is beautiful with intricate paintings and unusually shaped windows. The long, curving walkway is beautifully painted with scenes of everyday life and symbols.

Things are starting to feel a bit repetitive with all the gardens we've seen, but this was different enough to be interesting, and a great location for photography.

Rebecca bought a fur-lined hat (40 Yen) in preparation for the Great Wall where we're sure it's going to be very cold in the open.

From the palace, we made it to the jade factory.

Run-Ze Jade Garden


The Run-Ze Jade Garden is a jade store and restaurant (kind of a brilliant combination).

A ship made of jade!
We heard about the history of jade and were shown to different areas of the store with different quality levels for purchase. Such beautiful and amazing work. I found a purple jade bracelet and a set of lions (its good luck to display a set of lions).

And how do you know which lion goes on which side? The female lion clutches a baby lion in her paws, and as you exit a building, she is always on the right (you can imagine there are some jokes about this, and you'd be right).

From the Jade Store, we headed upstairs for lunch. So much food! I loved the pork balls. The beer here is good too - a little light but good flavor.

Be in the know: The vegetarians on this tour are having issues with getting vegetarian-only dishes. The tour guide explained it to the servers, but their table still ended up with meat dishes and one of the diners accidentally ate something with meat. Being devout vegetarians due to their religion, they aren't happy and I don't blame them. I'm not sure what the fix is for this, other than either having the tour guide at the vegetarian table so he can keep checking or learning Chinese and talking directly to the servers. So if you are a serious vegetarian - keep a watchful eye.

Then it was back on the bus for the drive to Ming's Tombs.

The Sacred Way to Ming's Tombs


Me and the giant camel
What I didn't realize was that we weren't going to see any of the actual tombs (there are thirteen imperial tombs in the area). Instead, the tour only visits the sacred way - a long entrance to the tombs with giant statues guarding the path. We did have fun though, getting photos with the statues.

The Great Wall


Then we headed to the Great Wall of China. The wind was cold and biting, but it was more than worth it to see the wall.

It and the mountains it follows were steeper than I imagined - think of it like a wall following the contours of a stormy, rolling sea. It's hard to imagine people working in such steep conditions to build it.
Me, Sara, Rebecca, and LuAnn. You can see more of the wall
in the fog behind us.


We went as far as we could in the time we had, then headed back down. Again, I would have loved more time on my own to explore longer. When we got back to the bottom we found everyone huddled in the back of a shop, drinking coffee or hot chocolate.

On a totally different subject, I find it weird that KFC (that's right, Kentucky Fried Chicken) is everywhere and most are open twenty-four hours. I couldn't help stopping in one near the entrance to the Great Wall to take a photo (below).

KFC Wall Art

All in all a busy but awesome day. As you can tell, there is a lot of walking involved in this tour, so if you go, be prepared with comfortable shoes!

When we got back to the hotel, Rebecca really wanted to go eat a scorpion (we had seen them sold out of small vendor stalls).

I said, "You have fun!"

I'm happy that her, Sara, and Luann went on without me, I can live without eating a scorpion.

Next up: Temple of Heaven, Pearl Shop, the Olympic Birds Nest, and a hop to Shanghai

You can check out:
Day 2 in Beijing, China
Day 1 in Beijing, China

If you'd like to see more of my travel posts, check out the trip to Costa Rica:
Day 1 in San Jose, Costa Rica

Additional days in China will be added soon!

Hello. I’m Sonja Dewing. I am a Writing Professional: Technical, business, and instructional writing, as well as a freelance writer for magazines and newspapers.

I'm a dedicated fitness fiend, outdoor enthusiast, and adventure seeker. I'm also a fiction author and I blog about my travel, backpacking, and other adventures.


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