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A Morning at the Summer Palace, Beijing

A Morning at the Summer Palace, Beijing

By Dorothy Fourie

TP 201812 beijing 02

鍦ㄥ寳浜繖涓巻鍙叉х殑鍦版爣涓害杩囦竴涓竻鏂扮殑娓呮櫒鍙兘浼氭垚涓轰竴绉嶇嫭鐗圭殑浣撻獙锛屽湪寰堜箙浠ュ墠锛屾垜鍦ㄥ畯浼熺殑寤虹瓚鍜屼汉宸ユ箹涓箳璺氳岃銆

 

鍦ㄩ偅閲岋紝鎴戠殑璁よ瘑涓浣嶇簿鑷寸殑濂充汉锛岀┛鐫閿︾紟闈㈡枡锛屾繁姊呰姳鍜岄噾鑹诧紝缈犵豢鑹插拰闈掗噾鐭宠摑鑹茬浉闂; 闅句互鎯宠薄鐨勫ア鍗庡拰缇庝附鐨勮。鏈嶃

 

鎴戝洖澶寸湅锛屽笇鏈涜兘鍐嶆鎵惧埌杩欎釜浜猴紝浣嗛偅閲屾病鏈変汉銆 寰鍚硅繃涓浜涘共鐕ョ殑鍙跺瓙銆 鍦ㄨ繖鏉¢暱闀跨殑璧板粖鐨勫湴鏉夸笂锛屾垜娉ㄦ剰鍒颁竴涓孩鑻规灉銆 鎴戞妸瀹冩崱璧锋潵锛 闂昏捣鏉ュ緢棣欍

 

鈥滄垜瀵归鍜屽洯鐨勫洖蹇嗘槸涓缁勫鑺傝壊鐨勫浘鐗団濓紝鎴戠殑鏈嬪弸Gisele Crewdson鍥炲繂璧锋潵锛岃繖浣嶅崡闈炰汉鏇句綔涓鸿嫳璇佸笀鍦ㄥ寳浜敓娲讳簡鍑犱釜瀛h妭銆 鈥滃綋鎴戜滑绌胯秺鍐板喕鐨勬槅鏄庢箹鏃讹紝鎴戜滑涓杈圭瑧涓杈硅蛋; 浠庨泹鍜屽鐨勯珮澶勫垎浜竴瑙堟棤浣欑殑鏅壊; 澶忓ぉ鐨勮幉鑺辩矇绾㈣壊钄撳欢鍦ㄦ箹姘翠腑; 鎴戠幇鍦ㄥ彲浠ュ洖鎯宠捣鏉ャ傗

TP 201812 beijing 01Spending a bright, early morning at this historical landmark in Beijing could turn out to be a unique experience of stepping back in time and losing yourself in times of long ago, among magnificent buildings and a man-made lake.

 

Join me as I embark on this journey.

 

鈥淗ello, who are you?鈥

 

There I was, my hand stretched out across time towards a regal woman dressed in exquisite brocade fabric of deep plum and gold, emerald green and lapis lazuli blue colours, both of which could be described as being unimaginably lavish and beautiful clothing.

 

Did I actually see the dark eyes and hair, twisted into two buns at the side of her head? Was it just a figment of my imagination that she ignored me, but moved her arm in a wide sweep? As my eyes followed the movement, I saw it: the beautiful stretch of water, seemingly unending, framed by the rainbow-like bridge with 17 arches. Sunlight played on the waves, and the colours of the sky reflected like stars in the water. It was the Kunming Lake, which happens to be a man-made stretch of water.

TP 201812 beijing 03I looked back, hoping to find this person again, but found no-one on turning around. A soft breeze left some dry leaves lying around. On the floor of this long corridor I noticed a red apple. I picked it up and smelled the fruit, and it was so fragrant. Wait...an apple, here?

 

It was morning in Beijing and I had come to the Summer Palace to visit across time here in China, across dynasties, to dwell within the best preserved imperial garden in the world. Unlike other days, when it can become congested with tourists and visitors, I had arrived at a peaceful time since it was still early and the gates had just opened.

 

I strolled down the Long Corridor, enjoying the painted scenes from Chinese mythology and also from famous places in China. It was as if this garden was striving to reflect beautiful places from all over the vast country. For instance, the three islands in the Kunming Lake are known to represent three well-known mountains from other areas in China.

 

From the roofed colonnade I found myself on the bridge that connects the Nanhu Island with the east bank. I took a boat trip across the lake and we stopped at the marble boat. This boat resembles a typical steam boat built especially for an empress, but is destined to remain at the water鈥檚 edge.

TP 201812 beijing 04I thought of the striking woman whom I had seen before ... I turned my head to hear well. I have to share with you: the lady of the corridor resembled Empress Dowager Cixi of the Qing Dynasty who used to live in the Summer Palace during her time in China. Apparently she also loved art and culture, nearly as much as she loved the fragrance of apples. When I reached the Garden of Virtue and Harmony, I stopped. I remembered reading about this part of the Summer Palace - The Great Opera Hall. It is also referred to as the Cradle of Opera in Beijing, where Empress Cixi enjoyed opera to such an extent that this unique place became the hub of Chinese opera culture.

 

At the Sea of Wisdom I saw my face reflected and fragmented for a moment in the coloured glass. This place is home to more than a thousand statues and Buddhist figures. Tall, old trees, saturated with knowledge of historical events 鈥 silent witnesses to wars and destruction, and then again to new growth and rebuilding - guard this place of spiritual tranquillity. Looking across the landscaped gardens, I realized that you would need at least half a day鈥檚 visit 鈥 or maybe even longer - to begin to understand the sheer magnitude of this beautiful place. You could come early, as the gates generally open around 6:30 in the morning. You could still enter round 6 pm and stay even longer if you are already inside.

 

鈥淢y memories of the (new) Summer Palace are a set of season-coloured images鈥, reminisces my friend, Gisele Crewdson, a South African who lived in Beijing as an English teacher for a few seasons. 鈥淟aughing as we tobogganed our way across the frozen Kunming Lake; sharing drop-away views from the heights of the Lama Temple; Summer鈥檚 pink spread of Lotus flowers over the lake waters; the drop and soar of kites above marble bridges; a sense of deepest peace after each and every visit 鈥 I can feel it now as I think back.鈥

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