Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Summer Palace in Beijing

After the visit to the wholesale market and our lunch, we took a cab and headed to the Summer Palace or 颐和园 in Beijing. It is called Summer Palace because it served as a summer resort for Emperor Dowager Cixi years ago. And it is also by far one of the prettiest places that I have visited in Beijing. The place was practically surrounded by water because apparently 3/4 of the area was the lake. At the entrance, we were greeted with many statues of the lion and the "pei yau", which were believed to guard against malevolent spirits at the temples.

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Majestic lion welcoming us

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"Pei Yau" - Guardian lion

Actually I am not very sure if the picture I took here was the "pei yau", because I read that "pei yau" usually has one horn only. Care to enlighten me, anybody?

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witch with Pei Yau

Oh notice the pair of boots I wore in the picture above? Nice or not? I bought them from Hong Qiao Market just the night before. It's 100% leather and very comfortable. I'm not sure how much they are sold here, but over there, I managed to haggle from the original 700RMB ro 250RMB, which is about RM125. I think that's pretty cheap considering the quality and the comfort of the boots. :)

I noticed this huge piece of rock on display, but I had no idea why it was so precious. It probably meant something back in the good old days.

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Giant rock?

The surroundings in Summer Palace were really pretty. Too bad I went during winter and missed out on the glorious flower blooms. I can only imagine how pretty the whole place would be during the spring. During winter, some trees managed to survive with leaves, while some went completed bald.

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Green in the midst of blue


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Leave-less tree

As with many other places in Beijing, the royal buildings back in the olden days were always red in colour. The same went with Summer Palace buildings and gazebos. There's always a hint of red in all the buildings.

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Red buildings in Summer Palace

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witch at Summer Palace

While walking, I spotted this huge bronze and heavy-looking thing, which appeared to be a fireplace? Very grand.

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Fireplace?

The Summer Palace was extremely huge. A lot of walking was required to cover the whole area of it. Sad to say, even after walking for almost 3 hours, we only managed to visit 1/3 of the area. It's THAT huge. If it wasn't for the cold weather and the short daytime (sun sets at 5.30pm), we would probably be able to cover more. We saw a bridge all the way in front of us and proceeded to walk towards that direction with the company of bald trees on the left and the frozen lake on the right. It was just wonderful.

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Long path towards the lake

Spotted this pair of photographers who were braving the cold just to take gorgeous pictures.

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Photograph enthusiasts

Look at the partially frozen lake. I wouldn't want to know what's the temperature of the water inside. Brrr...

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Partially frozen lake

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Ice-cold lake

We were almost there at the bridge and spotted this group of boats. I believe they must be very popular during other seasons of the year, at least when the lake is not frozen.

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Beautiful lake

As it was winter, no one was renting the boat. They're probably not allowed to, anyway.

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Boats for rent

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A beautiful bald tree

The beauty of Summer Palace just never failed to impress me. If I stay in Beijing, I would definitely choose this place to take my wedding pictures! So very romantic. :)

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Gorgeous scenery

Wihout us realizing, it was almost 5pm and the sun was going to set soon. Since we were already there, we thought of waiting for the sun to set so that we could capture the shots on camera. Do you notice from the picture below that the lake was partially frozen in the middle? So you get the gas, liquid and solid form of water, all in one picture! Cool huh? :)

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Sun about to set

The bridge was a popular picture place, so when there was a short moment that it was deserted, I quickly snapped this picture.

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Bridge

Some pictures were taken while waiting for the sun to set, a.k.a. camwhoring session. :P

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witch at the bridge

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with my new boots!

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I love this picture below! It was taken by Liew and it captured half of me as black and the other half under light.

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Ebony and ivory

There were also people skating on the frozen lake in the evening. Skating on natural ice must be fun! At least the ice will not melt and you won't get wet!

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Skating on natural ice

This was the famous bridge that many photographers came for. During the sun set, the rays that came through the arches were almost like bright neon lights. Note that there are 17 arches in this bridge, giving its name the 17-arch bridge. If you count from either side of the bridge to the central arch, you will get nine arches, and nine is the supreme number for the emperor.

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Bridge during sunset

Liew's DSLR was able to capture the bright lights better. Ahh, the power of nature.
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Bridge taken using a different camera

Soon, the sun was beginning to set. It was the most beautiful thing to watch.

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Sunset


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Setting

Finally, at exactly 5.30pm, the sun bade us farewell. It was certainly a very enjoyable visit, with plenty of good memories. One must not miss visiting the Summer Palace during the visit to Beijing.

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Sunset in Summer Palace

It was the New Year's eve on that day, and after this visit, we were headed to a nice restaurant for a new year gathering dinner with Joanne's friends. We even went clubbing after that! Clubbing in a Chinese disco, definitely a new experience for me. :) Will write about that next!

8 comments:

khengsiong said...

Oh... I missed out on the Summer Place the last time I went to Beijing. I only visited the Great Wall and Tian Tan. (It was a business trip.) Tian Tan's architecture was great, but it didn't have a lake.

Do you know that some Malaysians take their wedding photos in Bali? So you can consider going back to the Summer Palace.

P/S On the picture you love very much - the background is too blurred. Just my 2sen.

vkeong said...

wow, very nice photos.. you have a really good camera there. Of course, the skill matters too :P

The sky in Beijing is so clear.. so much different from what I expected from the air pollution, hmm. It must been really cold too eh.. even the lake is partly frozen

vialentino said...

wow...really nice china pics there...enjoying looking at it esp the sunset ones....

foongpc said...

Wow! Very nice photos! I like the fireplace pot and the sunset scenery! Did you capture these photos with your Panasonic Lumix camera?

Bamboo said...

Prepare to be enlightened :P. The celestial creature you mentioned is definitely NOT Pi Yao. It is a Chi Lin. A Chi Lin is describes as having a head of a dragon, antlers of a deer, scales of a fish, hooves of an ox and tail of a lion... which is exactly what was shown. As for the one horn and two horn thingy, it's true, that both Chi Lin and Pei Yao started off with just one horn, but afterwards the two horn variation came in. Some said that it was supposed to differentiate between male and female and to differentiate between Pi Yao and Pi Xie. Pi Yao is used mainly in financial related stuff due to its ability consume everything but not giving out anything (means collect money without losing any).
In conclusion, the celetial creature in the picture is Chi Lin.

Bamboo said...

And isn't it weird for someone to visit a Summer Palace in winter? Should have visited the Winter Palace instead :P

ck lam said...

Many nice photos of the garden. I wish I had the digital camera when I went there years ago.

iamthewitch said...

khengsiong: Oh I didn't know about Tian Tan. Was it nice? :) Well, taking pictures there would be so troublesome, especially when I don't speak or read Mandarin well. :/ Anyway, the photo is supposed to have blur background, to achieve the 'bokeh' effect. :) It's nice that way. :)

vkeong: Thank you, I think. :P Yea, it was really freezing cold.

vialentino: Thank you via. :)

foongpc: Thanks foong! Yea, I captured all with my Lumix, except those few portraits with very obvious bokeh effect. Those only DSLR could do.

Bamboo: Wow, what a description of the Chi Lin! If I didn't have a picture to refer to, I'd say you were lying. :P Well, there was only Summer Palace nearby mar, and it's so famous that I couldn't miss visiting it. :)

ck lam: Oh you should go there again ck! It's so beautiful now, and it's cheaper with the AirAsia flight. ;)