We start our tour of Beijing through the Kunming lake boat ride. Our boats have the shape of a red dragon with a yellow typical Chinese roof on top. The roofs have curved corners and animal figurines adorning their sides. This pleasant boat tours around the lake, while we record the view on our cameras and memories. All those palaces, bridges are gardens along the riverbanks was a joy to watch. We approach the shore again to tour the Summer Palace.
The summer palace is built on a land of 280 hectares. It reached today from the times of the Kublai Khan. It was later renovated by the Emperor Yi Hu Yuan between the years of 1749-1764. Later on the emperors constructed other palaces and additional buildings. The summer palace, is a place of visit for those who got tired of the heat in the City Center and the Forbidden City. In 1860’s opium wars The English and the French destroyed it to ruins and it had to be renovated again by the Widow Empress Cixi in 1886. Once the renovation progress concluded in 1903, the palace is being well preserved since that day.
We pass through a narrow corridor of 777 meters of length and 2 meters of width, just between the East buildings and the Marble Ship. This is the walkway of the Empress Cixi, nicknamed the Dragon.. The wooden corridors has red columns and colorful boards in between them. It is said that there are 10.000 of these boards. The beams on the ceiling has many depictions of Chinese history, literature and mythology.
Then we see the one of the most famous structures of the Summer Palace, the Marble Ship. The empress asked for a marble ship constantly, even when her servants notified her that a marble ship won’t be able to stay afloat. Thus a marble ship of 36 meters in height was constructed and sunk deep into the lake. Then it was recovered from the lake and placed near the shore. Cixi restorated this ship which was nick name the Fool’s ship by the locals, with the budget reserved for the navy. This led to the public bearing a hatred for the Empress. According to the stories Dragon Cixi was fond of luxury and riotous living.
We leave the Summer Palace and come to the silk factory. We are shown about the raising of the culture pearls and their production process. An oyster of 10 cm’s can have 25-30 pearls inside it. This is occurring due to the sand particles going inside the oyster, being preserved and mutated with natural juices of the oyster, thus the pearl comes to be. This happens in a span of 5 years. The oyster we opened was 5 years old. You can learn it from the circles it has on top of it. Each ring means 1 year.
Of course after this informative demonstration, we are taken to the souvenir shop right next to the area. China has a great way of selling these things, first they show you how they are done, then they sell it to you…