Last, but not least on our list of ‘must sees’ in Beijing, was the New Summer Palace, another UNESCO site. If your into history, check out this website for the long and destructive history of this relatively new Royal Park.
It lies to the northwest of the city center and can easily be reached by taxi or subway. We took a taxi there and the subway back. Both took pretty much the same amount of time. With the subway totaling only $1.30 for 4 – I would recommend the subway. Get off at the Beigongmen Subway stop and walk few blocks.
We purchased the all-inclusive ticket for 60 RMB ($10) each and thought we were covered. But, the all-inclusive ticket turned out to not be so all-inclusive after all. We ended up paying a few extra RMB to take the boat across the lake and to get into a few of the other sites around the lake as well. Anyways – we enjoyed the beautiful Imperial Gardens surrounding Lake Kumming; which was modeled after the West Lake in Hangzhou, our next stop.
Honestly, the funniest thing happen to us while we were touring the Summer Palace. We could hear a performance in progress as we entered the Theatre Stage. My son rushed ahead to see what was going on, but missed it. As usual, we were unable to communicate with anyone concerning this performance. All we could figure out, was that another show was going to start in 30 minutes. So, we waited. My son was under the impression that is was some sort of awesome martial arts performance with knives.
The time finally came and it turned out to be a Chinese Opera. Have you every heard a Chinese Opera? It is definitely an acquired taste!
There were other traditional signers and dancers as well -but, no martial arts or knives. We still laugh at how we had stayed in the hot summer sun to hear Chinese Opera!
After that the kids had seen enough, so we headed out, passing the Marble Boat along the lakefront. The “boat” was commissioned by Empress Dowager Cixi in 1888 with funds diverted from the Chinese Navy. Oh, what glory it must be to have all that power!
And with that we were done.