I caught the metro out of Beijing city to the Summer Palace, a beautiful palace built upon a serene lake for emperors and empresses to escape the city during the summer months when the heat gets unbearable. The palace itself was, again, extremely busy, and with its narrow pathways and steep outside steps I felt like I was just been herded around in the crowd. It’s hard to take in its beauty when you’re just constantly making sure you don’t get pushed down the steps by the copious amounts of camera-happy Chinese tourists.
However, when I walked down to the lake area the beauty of the place as undeniable. The lake spanned for miles and miles and was surrounded by grassy areas, walkways, bridges and trees. Slow dragon boats travelled over the lake to an island at the south which was connected to the land by a graceful 17 arch bridge. I took the dragon boat to the island before walking around the whole lake. The further round I got the quieter it became, with my favourite spot being right at the furthest point of the lake where I sat and had something to eat, wrote my journal and sunbathed for a while. Considering the palace was built to escape the heat, it was pretty bloody hot! The lake was looking very tempting.
By the time I had finally walked all the way around the lake it was getting pretty late and I headed back to the hostel to meet my roommates to go to Wangfujing night market.
Wangfujing is an extremely wealthy area with giant designer shops and plenty of flashy advertising (think a smaller Times Square). However, turning down into the night market street was a world away from the Westernised main road. Chinese lanterns hung everywhere, stall owners bartered with customers and food stalls sold the weirdest foods; scorpions, sea horses, star fish, lizards – you name it!