Summer Summer Palace.

Nicholas Quirke was certain that now was the right time to be visiting the Summer Palace on 3 June 2020. The temperature was in the 30’s and he could enjoy the experience as the Imperial family did, in the torpid heat and blue sunshine. It was a 10 mile cycle ride from the apartment and he took the cycle slowly in the blazing sunshine. Beijing was probably the most futuristic looking city he had ever been in with its huge extravagant architecture, monolithic towers that echoed the immense mountain ranges he had travelled through and there was something a little bit scary about being adrift in such foreign and daunting landscape. Nothing made him feel quite so small or lost but with his trusty GPS maps even the scary territory he peddled through was viewed with a new confidence. On the flip side, nothing made him feel quite so comfortable with his surroundings as the journey through the Imperial landscapes and palaces. Had he lived a former life here he wondered, though a previous visit explained the familiarity he felt. It was good to see the Palace in the season which the royal family used it and equally good was that he was viewing it on his own terms, not with a guide, working to a time agenda which meant that he could take his time and experience and examine the beauty of the almost perfect environment the ancient Chinese had created. With breathtaking views of the lake and the mountains, a gentle breeze drifting across the water it was the most idyllic place to be. He remembered the steep climb up to the temple which was perhaps not wise to negotiate on such a hot day, and momentarily resented that the temples he visited often seemed to be close to the skies and heavens. Sadly the palace theatre, the largest surviving example of its type was shut and he didn’t have the opportunity to examine this stunning building which could be glimpsed the rough closed doors and above high walls. Everything about then palace breathed peace and luxury and indolence, it really was exquisite. He wandered through the 728 metres of the Long Gallery, a magnificently designed and painted feature that is also the longest corridor in Chinese classic gardens. He was of course attracting attention as the only Lao Wei in the grounds again with many families actually being bold enough to talk to him even if all they could say was ‘Hello’ and try and shake his hand. The heat really was starting to be oppressive and he doubted his ability to cycle the 10 miles back to the apartment and it was a very easy decision to take the subway which to his delight was actually Line 4 and meant he did not have to change and took him all the way to Caishikou. A simple and easy evening lay ahead with another movie before bed.


  1. Truly beautiful Nick. I especially loved the stained glass in one of your photos and, yes,I need a summer palace. I’ve always wanted a dacha style home so I need to upgrade my aspirations! X

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