Based in Houston, Texas, GEV is a blog by The GreenEyed Venuist. Her posts explore travel and photography through her green eyes.

A Summer Palace in Winter

In the afternoon, after our visit to the Forbidden City, we drove the 10 miles outside of Beijing to the Summer Palace.

The Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing...completely frozen over in the winter time lol. I forgot to mention that it was about 16 degrees and the wind chill made it feel something like -10. Literally the coldest weather I've ever experienced in my whole life....and I was outside...sightseeing the whole time...enduring the hawk smacking me on my cheeks (hawk - a noun used to describe cold weather with a biting wind or bitter cold as if it were an inanimate object...more commonly used by people in areas like Chicago where it gets unbearably cold in the winter). By the end of the tour, my hands were so cold they had gone numb.

Brief history of the Summer Palace: Construction started in 1750 as a royal garden for the royal families to rest and entertain. Later, it became the main residence of the royal families in the Qing Dynasty. After being burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces, it was rebuilt in 1888 and renamed the Summer Palace. The palace was destroyed again in 1900 and repaired 2 years later. In 1924 it was opened to the public and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. For more information about visiting the Summer Palace, click here. The site is in Chinese but can be translated. 

The most prominent parts of the Summer Palace are Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. The lake is man made...and all the soil excavated from that area was used to build the hill. For more historical information about the Summer Palace, click here. Also, the UNESCO information can be found here

Approaching the Summer Palace, I'm thinking to myself, I really need a side hustle because my next goal in life is to acquire a summer palace of some sort. Just think, coming to visit me at the summer palace and having great gatsby-esque parties by the lake (the depiction of the parties from the movie)....I can see it now. Of course, my summer palace would be on a smaller scale but its definitely something worth looking into. My lake doesn't have to be this  big...I could swap it out for a really dope pool but you get the idea.

In the picture below, you can clearly see Longevity Hill. 

There were so many spectacular examples of Chinese architecture. UNESCO refers to it as a masterpiece of Chinese landscape and garden design and combined with the various structures it forms a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthitic value. I honestly couldn't agree more. Every time I turned my head there was something else interesting I wanted to photograph, some exciting angle. It seemed like it was all very intentionally designed, very calculated. Almost like it was made to give you a phenomenal visual experience. Actually, this was pissing me off a little. I tried to capture everything, literally, but since I have little to no training on how to use my camera aside from the traditional point and shoot...I felt like I wasn't able to really get everything. I did the best with what I had though....sigh. 

I really adore the picture below. About 75% (ok 85% let's be real) of the awesome pictures I take are completely accidental. I spend tons of time trying to maneuver the camera to get great angles, etc. but its in those random moments when I raise my camera that I get something that I think is truly beautiful. This is a picture of the Smartours group my cousin and I traveled with, all focused on a large rock or shield on display in the garden. You can see the Smartours flag, our beacon that kept us from getting lost in the crowd of tourists, flapping in the wind. I love how it captured kind of an intense and epic moment....sun shining from the east...clear blue skies....everyone kind gazing upward towards the arch in the background....I'd like to pat myself on the back for this one.

Other random shots of the gardens...

Also, in a couple of my pics you'll notice a blue hue. It's weird b/c that's just the shadow cast by the buildings and the position of the sun in the sky but it made things look pretty cool too. 

I have more pictures of this corridor than I'd like to admit but....the picture below shows The Long Gallery (Changlang). This is the most classic feature on the grounds of the Summer Palace and it was astonishing. The corridor is 728 meters long and is the longest in Chinese classic gardens - built in 1750 by the emperor so that his mother could walk outdoors regardless of the weather and view the garden. Like most of the attractions we saw in China, it was destroyed and then rebuilt in 1886. The corridor has 273 "rooms", which is literally just the space between the two pairs of columns that support the roof. In the center is the Gate of Dispelling Clouds. 

The corridors or galleries are an important part of ancient Chinese architecture. What stood out to me the most was the 14,000 Su style colored painting on every beam and every cross member. The Long Gallery is also commonly referred to as "the colored paintings museum". Because of its length and the abundance of colored paintings, the Long Gallery was included in the Guiness Book of World Records in the early 1900s. To say this was the highlight of the Summer Palace would be an understatement. 

Please enjoy the pics of the gallery and surrounding area below.

Then, we came upon this beauty. This is a Marble Boat. Yes...that's right. Made entirely of marble. Built in 1755 and rebuilt in 1893 using a western design. The Empress Dowager Cixi used the boat to view the scenery and be entertained. Of course...this boat is completely non-functional because marble would just sink to the bottom of the lake. It's decorated with glass windows and wheels paved with colorful bricks. It is said that the huge mirrors were installed so that the empress could enjoy the exquisite lake scene while having tea. 

The part of the Summer Palace is called Back Lake. The gate, bridge and dock with the yellow roof boats depicted below were incredible. 

The back of the Marble Boat in the frozen Lake Kunming...

We toured the gardens surrounding the palace.

This picture is an example of the angles I mentioned earlier. Look at that....it looks purposeful. 

I LOVE this bridge and there are beautiful, droopy weeping willow trees all over China. Of course it was winter time so they were lacking some foliage but... my goodness. The drama of the scenes from on top of and around this bridge....gave me life.

Round of applause for the Summer Palace ladies and gentleman....I'll wait. 

More of China and maybe a throw back to Greece up next!

"There's no where to go but everywhere...so get going!"~~GEV

Houston Auto Show 2015

The Forbidden City - Beijing