Saturday, 26 January 2013

48 hours in Beijing, Part Deux

It was in the balmy spring month of May when I had the second chance to ride shotgun with the big K. Unlike my first Beijing visit, this time it was going to be a leisurely exploration of the city. But, of course, it still involved a lot of walking. 


Cool weather with lots of sunshine, what better way to start our first day than on a visit to the largest and best-preserved imperial garden of China, the Summer Palace. Located northwest of the city center, the Summer Palace is 300 hectares big and is mainly composed of the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake.  

Easily accessible by subway line 4, visitors have two options on which stop to get off. The Xiyuan stop is a 5 minute walk from the East Palace Gate, the Summer Palace's main entrance. This gate gets a lot of visitors since it is the favored starting point of group tours. Tours starting from this point get to visit the Kunming Lake first and end up at the Longevity Hill.

The big K and I chose to get off at the second stop, Beigongmen which was right up the North Palace Gate. Not too crowded here plus we start at the Longevity Hill and work our way down towards Kunming Lake.
The garden is so lush with little lakes and quaint bridges all around.
There were walkways that followed the contours of the many lakes inside the garden.
The Summer Palace was included in UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1998.  
I love how they name their bridges, so lyrical. 
Pedal boats can be rented to paddle around Kunming Lake.
With more than half of the day spent enjoying the garden and the many pavilions, we were ready to call it a day. Exiting at the Eastern Palace gate, we hopped on the nearby subway (Xiyuan stop) with a quick stop for dinner at Wangfujing for the big K's roasted leg of lamb fix.  


Day 2 of our 48 hour leisurely tour

Fully rested from the previous day's outing, the big K and I were ready to explore one of the city's famous hutongs. Hutongs are neighborhoods with narrow streets or alleys generally associated with Beijing.  

Taking subway line 2, we got off at Guloudajie. Exiting the station we encountered ongoing construction all-around. Uh-oh, did we get off at the wrong stop? After a few minutes of head-scratching, neck-craning and trying-to-consult-where-the-heck-we-were-in-the-map, a kindly local approached us and directed us to where we wanted to go. Giving our "duoxie" (thank you!) to the friendly local, the big K and I were finally off on our hutong tour.    


Traditional Chinese residences or Siheyuans joined together make up the hutongs.
The streets are so narrow only bikes and carts can get through.   
A peep at one of the siheyuans. Guess it was washing day that time.....
The Houhai Lake, a welcome respite after our long and enjoyable hutong walk.

It was another wonderful visit to Beijing, tiring but definitely fun. I am hoping I get to go back again. Until next time....