15.07.2018 37 °C
Feeling empowered with our map of the underground we headed off to the Summer Palace, built by the last Chinese dynasty in the 1700's, with temples and shady pathways. Lots of beautiful traditional views, Chinese do roofs really well! The palaces of China are much more focused on the outer design and decoration than their interiors. Sadly much of the beauty and grandeur was burned and smashed in 1860 by the Anglo/French attack during the the Opium Wars, this included the beheading of hundreds of ceramic Buddhas which decorated the outside of a temple, it is believed that the soldiers took them home as souveniers.
The temperature is unbelievably hot and the humidity makes it feel like the air is thick with moisture, sweat runs off you in streams.
After a rest we again took to the Metro, this time to travel to an old area of Beijing called Hutong, this word denotes clusters or groups of houses built around a central area then joined to others, often around a well. It is a heritage area and very pretty with lots of interesting shops. We found a copy of Mao's Little Red Book there in English translation, sounded quite reasoned and rational! A guide explained to us that during the cultural revolution ((1965-1975) this would be read daily at the meal table.
John ate some barbecued, spiced lamb on a steel skewer which looked like a sword and I had Crab, Dumpling soup which is a large dumpling a bit bigger than a tennis ball, the inside is filled with crab meat in a broth which you drink through a straw , then finish by eating the shell with the remaining crab meat, not bad but not outstanding.
This particular Hutong is on a river, with Dragon Boats travelling along it, there were also many rickshaws to carry tourists.
We planned to explore further but saw the umbrella sellers start to appear in numbers, the most predictable sign of a change in the weather.
I also had a challenging experience with a toilet there, on finding one I found that it was merely a long space with several squat toilets side by side (no cubicles) and one western toilet at the end!!!
Travelled home again on the metro, I am loving the metro, we even managed to buy our tickets from an automated machine, very easy to work out once you get the hang of it and fascinating watching the passengers on the train. John is quite intriguing for young children; an ageing westerner with a white beard!!!