Crowds, crowds and did I mention crowds?
We are en route from the U.S. to Tibet with a day in Beijing — my third visit to China’s capital. The first was in 1999, and even superficial changes since then are stunning. Built into the Road Scholar itinerary were a couple of hours in the stunning Summer Palace, a grandiose and elaborate treasure from the old Chinese Empire. It was crowded when I first visited, but now, there are more people, more photo and video stops, plus selfie sticks that did not exist then.
The standard route through the palace remains unchanged — a walk through the gates, across a courtyard or two, a scenic walk with an artificial lake on one side and a lovely arcade on the other, a look at the famous stone boat and a ride across the lake to a landing near the exit. Here are some pictures from my visit. As you can see, taking any without a lot of people was a challenge, but taking them with a crowd was as simple as pointing the camera anywhere along the standard route.
Located 9 miles from downtown, this is the largest and best-preserved royal park in China. Construction began in 1750 as a setting for royal families to rest and entertain, and many of its features of combining natural and enhanced landsscapes have served as a model for Chinese gardens. Heavily damaged, it was twice rebuilt and In 1924, it was opened to the public. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a leading attraction for foreign and domestic visitors.
The basic walk-through tour at lake level and boat ride are standard on most city tours, but it is possible to reach the Summer Palace by public transportation and visit are leisure. Click here and scroll down for details.