To get to the summer palace, we had to take a 40 minute subway ride... even though the summer palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Beijing's most popular historic sites, the subway was, for once, super empty. I took a picture because its crazy that there was hardly anyone on there and I somehow doubt I will ever see it that empty again. Usually there is barely standing room let alone open seats!
I just thought it was a cool shot
A respite from the heat
Our "taxi" back to the subway station. With the way they drive around here, I was scared... but we made it unscathed!
A close-up of the pretty door from my other post. Here you can see the Buddhist carvings really well. It was really interesting because there was a woman who would bow in front of things like this. At one altar, which we weren't allowed to take pictures of, she would donate money, but first would lift the money up in front of her and present it to the statue, then put it in the pot and bow again. It was really cool to witness this cultural aspect & religious display.
Yesterday was a beautiful day, clear skies & sunny, so we took a taxi to 北海公园 － beihai gongyuan, or Beihai Park. Beihai Park is an imperial garden that was originally built in the 10th century. The structures inside were built to replicate famous sights across China.
I loved all these pretty red lanterns.
These were hanging in the trees, its the Chinese character 福, or fu, which is a symbol of fortune.
She was practicing her calligraphy. People do this periodically throughout parks, usually away from crowds, and for their own practice, not for money.
These pavilions were so cool, they were packed with Chinese people playing traditional Chinese music and singing Chinese songs. It was so much fun to catch a peek into this aspect of their culture.
And my favorite picture of the day, because there is just something so China about it - this is no longer in the park.
A couple more tidbits:
1. I used my first Chinese toilet. I felt like this was somewhat of a hurdle and I am proud to say I have my first use out of the way and it wasn't so bad! You don't have to touch anything in the stall so its actually really clean. I promise I will stop talking about using the bathroom from now on.
2. Eating here is so, so cheap. We can pay a little over a dollar for about 12 baozi - a delicious steamed bun, usually with meat or veggies inside. But, I also paid 1.50 USD for 1 mini-size snickers bar. Going to have mom send me some.
3. Speaking of baozi, I ate at my first not-quite-street-food-yet-not-really-a-restaurant. It was delicious, and I didn't get sick (fingers crossed!)
4. Taxis here are SO cheap. We spent at least 35 minutes in a taxi yesterday and only paid 5 U.S. dollars. Imagine that in New York! Not to mention hailing a cab is 1. totally easy and 2. extremely fun.
5. My husband stumbled on a "dating market" the other day. He was shooed away before he could get pictures. Chinese parents go to this park, set up booths "advertising" their son or daughter - their sex, age, educational background, hobbies, etc. - and set them up on blind dates with the children of other parents who are there. Its a really interesting cultural phenomenon - can you imagine your parents going to a park to do this in order to find you a match? We are going back this weekend and I will get pictures for you guys!
6. We are planning our first trip within China. Next month we are going to Inner Mongolia and Mongolia. I know this is probably a long shot, but have any of you been? If so any recs? At first my husband had me on an overnight bus... I told him he has to break me in slowly since this is our first trip, and to a somewhat remote place at that! hah. We are going to stay in a Mongolian Yurt for a couple nights. Wish me luck.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures!