After a day of rest from traveling across the ocean, we decided that it was time for Grams and Papa’s first adventure. We didn’t want to start out to big with something like the Great Wall, but then again didn’t want to waste our precious days on anything non-significant. We decided on the Summer Palace.
On the way there we had a chance to teach Grams and Papa the ways of Chinese public transportation. The long waits, the pushing, the shoving, the confusion, it was all there. But then again getting there is half the adventure!
Luckily we arrived safely, and no one got lost on the way. Thus we began our exploration of the great Summer Palace. We started off our tour by taking the steep trek down a flight crude rock steps to the river walk at the palace gate. Now when I say river walk think San Antonio river walk minus any type of safety cautions taken plus people trying to persuade you to buy their goods. The sidewalk was so narrow in some places that Abel’s stroller almost didn’t fit. So, basically, it would never make the cut in the States (as most things here wouldn’t). Still it was so nice to be down by the water and get to look through the shops.
A little backstory on the river walk: it was built especially for the benefit of the royal family when staying at the summer palace. Obviously, the royals were never actually allowed to go to market for themselves, so this miniature market was created for their amusement instead. Now I know that most people reading this will wonder what in the world is wrong with these people? Who actually wants to go to the store? But apparently ancient royals did, and now we had the chance to walk in their footsteps for a little while.
One of the first booths that attracted our attention was a dress up photoshop. Usually this kinda shop is the kind that we immediately walk briskly past because it is so hard to get our family to stand still for a picture, much less in costume. But Grams and Papa on the other hand, maybe we could get them to stand still. 😉 After forking over a few RMB (Chinese currency) and persuading Grams into a costume we got this wonderful shot.
Now, Grams would never miss a good photo-opt so soon enough, after perfecting her Chines bargaining skills with the shop owner, she had us all in costumes too.
As you can probably imagine, the Chinese paparazzi was definitely attracted to this sight. And who wouldn’t be? Look at mister emperor of cuteness over here. 😉
After shopping around for a little longer we decided that we should probably make the trek back up to see the actual palace part of the Summer Palace.
So after a short snack break we set off to conquer the palace. On the way we saw the iconic marble boat. The boat was created for the empress who wanted to have parties on the water but was terrified of actually being out on the water. The boat was actually marble, but was obviously not actually floating. It was just built on a platform in the water.
Now we had reached the moment of truth: who would be strong enough to hike up to the Buddhist temple at the top of the mountain, and who would stay down on the bottom? Mom and Dad, having made the hike 16 years earlier opted to stay down and chill with Abel while the rest of us took the challenge. At this point Scarlett urged us on saying that “it wasn’t to bad,” Let’s just say that at that point Scarlett lost some credibility in Grams and Papa’s book because of this:
“It’s not that bad” she said.
That was a full Great Wall workout right there. Grams and Papa thought it was even harder than the Great Wall. But! I must admit the view was worth it. (This wasn’t even the top)
Eventually we did reach our goals, a temples for the multi armed goddess of Buddhism (blanking on her name) and the Buddha himself. We then took the steps back down and were met with a picture of Abel’s adventure while we were up on the mountain.
Daddy went to go get drinks while we were headed up to the Buddha…when he came back, this is what he found. Mom and Abel were sitting out of the way from the main area and about 25 people came up to take a picture with the token white baby of the Summer Palace. Some of them were picking Abel up and many were kissing him. I guess that’s just the cost of being famous. 😉
Finally, we decided it was time to go. Instead of walking, we took a dragon boat to the exit of the park. It took us past a clear view of where we had just been as well as the 17 arch bridge (which I didn’t get a good picture of, sadly)
Eventually we made our way off the boat, (And Grams didn’t even get sick at all!) and went up on the bridge for a quick look around before getting back on the subway.
Then it happened. I don’t know where they came from, but they were on us like Eli to a screen. Chinese women coming in from every side wanting a picture with us. Chinese men literally picking Abel up and walking away with him to take a picture. At one point a group came up to us to take a picture, and I honestly had had enough so I said no thank you. They stared at me for a minute, very confused, and then began to laugh. Surely I was joking! I persisted in my decline and eventually they turned away to take a picture with Mom and Scarlett instead. It was paparazzi worse than I had ever seen before, I literally still cringe at the thought of it.
Eventually we did make it out alive, quite satisfied with our exercise for the day and Grams and Papa’s first genuine Chinese adventure.
PS. A few extra bonus pictures for you for making it this far:
1. I’m pretty sure we have found the Chinese Gandalf. He’s got the pipe, and there’s even the hobbit door and everything! Apparently he really didn’t appreciate the pictures though because he shut the door as soon as he noticed…Oh well…
2.”You keep saying that word but I do not think it means what you think it means….”
Welp, there you’ve got it folks! Thanks for reading – A