Friday, December 12, 2008

The Winter Palace?

One of our family goals is to see many of Beijing's tourist attractions in each season...because we can. Spending a whole year here gives us opportunities to experience the differences in the "feel" of these places, as well as the "look."

Yesterday I decided to check things out at the Summer Palace. Since it's only a 15 minute walk, it's almost a pity not to go there weekly. Since it had been a few weeks, I was not expecting much of a change, but was delighted that the place was almost unrecognizable. It was a winter wonderland!

Kunming Lake, the natural gem of this landmark, was frozen over. Not ready for skating, yet (as the guard at the water's edge will tell you), but well on its way. The surrounding trees were free of their leaves and created a beautiful, albeit stark, outline with the white smog and orange glowing sun as their backdrop.

In addition, the crowds who usually keep the palace bursting at its seams were modest at best. Those who did "brave" the elements were bundled as if they were on the frozen tundra, equipped with their warmest parkas and, in some cases, Manchurian-style hats with flaps of fur over their ears.

To walk amid this beautiful gongyuan (park) with inspirational Christmas music playing through my iPod, truly put the sparkle of the season in my mind and heart.

We'll all be heading back this weekend, no doubt!



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