I spent my second day in Beijing visiting the Summer Palace, kindly guided by a Chinese friend who lives in Beijing. This is a perfect place to explore on a hot summer day, because it was designed to be comfortable in the summer. There are shade trees everywhere, a large hill or a miniature mountain (depending on your point of view), and on one side of the grounds is a lake. It's an extremely large park, I was there about three hours and we were walking almost the entire time, but we probably saw only about half of it.
We went in the gate nearest the subway exit, which is not the main tourist gate. Immediately upon entering is a stone bridge and a big painted ornamental gate.
The bridge spans "Suzhou Street", a lovely waterway with shops which was designed as a replica of the city of Suzhou, which is famous in China for its waterways as Venice is in Italy.
Detail of the buildings on Suzhou Street:
After crossing the bridge and under the gate, we came to this sign.
The hill looks pretty tame so far...
... until we take the right hand path.
The steps continue to get steeper and more uneven until we reach the second level of the buildings, where the view is my reward for climbing.
This close-up shows that the yellow and green tiles are not merely painted, but glazed and fired.
Among and between the buildings were more steep rocky steps, as well as some funny little grottoes which were blessedly cool inside.
This wall is seen from behind some of the buildings, and I later discovered that a similar wall goes all the way up the other side of the mountain. There are so many structures here, most of them ornate; it boggles the mind to think of how much time and effort went into the construction of the summer palace.
Leaving through the back of the buildings, we found ourselves on this lovely shady path around the mountainside - thankfully, heading downward.
Many paths in public parks in China have this kind of decorative stonework with stones and bits of old tile, and the designs seem to be up to whomever laid that particular path.
Apparently this bit of path was under repair.
I have quite a few more pictures of the summer palace, but will upload them in part 2 of this entry. These take an astonishingly long time to upload, 2+ minutes per image. I am planning to go on another trip tomorrow to Qufu, so I need to pack and prepare for that.