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Day 33 Beijing

June 30, 2011
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June 28, 2011 (Tuesday)

Thirty-third day in China, first day in Beijing: 颐和园 Summer Palace, 鼓楼大街 Gulou Street

I ate lunch cooked by Liguo, my CouchSurfing host, and Hanta, another surfer. I met Joy’s friend Haofang at the train station. We went to Yiheyuan, or the “Summer Palace.” The park was full of old buildings, though most were burned by the colonial invaders in the mid 1800s and rebuilt by Empress Dowager Cixi (pronounced Tsuh-she) in 1886. A beamless hall decorated by ensconced Buddhas outside and paintings on the inside held a statue of Guanyin. The 长廊 Long Corridor was a covered walkway with open sides, nearly 800 meters long, that ran along 昆明湖 Kunming Lake. Some old paintings remained, depicting scenes from literature like 西遊記 Journey to the West. We climbed up to the 佛香阁 Buddhist Incense Tower. A Ming statue of Guanyin with many faces and arms stood inside. We looked down on the yellow roofs of the structures ordered by Cixi and Kunming Lake, dotted with boats. Descended and passed a stone boat on the lakeside.

Took the subway to Gulou Street, where we saw the huge gulou, or drum tower, where the drums used to sound at night, and the stone bell tower, where the bell sounded in the morning. We passed construction and many cafes, then turned into a 胡同 hutong, one of the residential alleys characteristic of old Beijing. We walked around 后海 Houhai Lake, past dozens of bars, clubs and cafes. A group of old men on a street corner sang a revolution-era opera. From the drum tower we passed many stores selling video games and found a Sichuan restaurant where we ate fish boiled in oil at our table.


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