Chgende’s Little Potala

Nicholas Quirke was discovering another city, another part of China’s history on 31 July 2020. Peng had arranged for them to to the mountains to Chengde and the mountain resort which had been the summer retreat for the Qing Dynasty Emperors. An area laden with history and he was excited to be on the journey through more spectacular mountain scenery. It was however a trip fraught with delays and incident. Stoping for petrol at a service station where there was none, a police car blocking their progress along the road. Re-routed with no directions due to a road accident. Stuck in a village where the car got scratched, twice. Following a road that led to an eventual dead end till finally after 4 hours they reached Chengde and the Hotel. After registering at the Hotel, where the room was upgraded to one with a fantastic view on the 16th floor. They were to early to check in, they had a tea in Starbucks and proceeded to work. Nicholas had a surprise 20 minute examination with the Online English school he was now doing some work for. They lunched on noodles where he got lots of stares and then checked in before they went to purchase a block ticket for 4 venues, the first of which they took a Didi to visit that day ‘The Putuo Zoncheng temple built by Emperor Qinlong, in an extravagant feast urge, as an 80th birthday present for his mother and to celebrate his 60th, is modelled on The Putala Palace in Lhasa. It was an exotic, expansive and beautiful space and full of surprises. It looked very different to any of the temples he had previously seen. He was again a figure of interest and received more than usual stares and greetings including a couple of children, one aged 9 who wanted to practice their very proficient English. The interior of the huge red palace was an astonishing labyrinth of buildings within buildings. And from the top, the final reward was a pagoda with a gold roof and a view of the wall built to surround the mountain summer palace of the Emperor. The city did no operate a national bike scheme but the did provide electronic bikes and Nicholas had his first ever ride on one back back to the city. They did some sight seeing along the way and looked for somewhere to eat. He was accosted by another child who wanted to speak in English with and show him the fish he had caught. ‘Those are too small” Nicholas said, “You will have to throw them back”. To his surprise the child understood. The restaurant was very smart and they were served one of the most exotic dishes he had seen swirling with dry ice. It had been a very long day and when they finally got back to the hotel he was ready to collapse into bed and sleep.


  1. What a fantastic place! Glad to hear you have some work and how lovely that the children want to practise their English with you xx

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