World’s Longest Bridge

On July 29, 2011, in Modern Architecture, Tours, Transportation, by Jack Li

The world’s longest cross sea bridge has been revealed by China, proving once again how technology and economics are the strongest points of its economy. Come to China to visit one of the most amazing architectural designs in the world, just check out the following links: Air China, China Travel. Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, is a […]

The world’s longest cross sea bridge has been revealed by China, proving
once again how technology and economics are the strongest points of its economy. Come to China to visit one of the most amazing architectural designs in the world, just check out the following links: Air China, China Travel.

Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, is a roadway bridge in eastern China’s Shadong province. It transects Jiaozhou Bay, connecting Huangdao District, the city of Qingdao and Hongdao Island (the bridge is “T” shaped with 3 entry/exit points). Opened on 30 June 2011, it reduces the road distance between Qingdao and Huangdao. The bridge, opened at the same time as the nearby Qing-Huang Tunnel, both part of the Jiaozhou Bay Connection Project.

Jiaozhou Bay Bridge is 42.5 kilometres (26.4 miles) long, making it
according to Guinness World Records the world’s longest bridge over water
as of July 2011. China is already home to seven of the world’s 10 longest bridges, including the world’s lengthiest, the 102 mile Danyang-Kunshan rail bridge, which runs over land and water near Shanghai. And with Beijing pumping billions into boosting China’s infrastructure, the Qingdao Haiwan Bridge will not be the world’s longest sea bridge for very long as coming 2016, it is due to be surpassed by an even longer structure, linking Hong Kong with the Guangdong province. The longest bridge over water “continuous length” is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the difference being the latter runs continuously over water while Jiaozhou Bay Bridge has parts over land. It is estimated Jiaozhou Bay Bridge is over water for 25.5 kilometres (15.8 mi).

The bridge took four years to build, and employed at least 10,000 people. 450,000 tons of steel and 2.3 million cubic meters of concrete were used in the
construction of the bridge, which was designed by the Shandong Gaosu Group. It is designed to beable to withstand severe earthquakes, typhoons, and collisions with ships. The bridge is supported by more than 5,000 pillars, 35 meters (115 feet) wide, carrying six lanes and two shoulders, and cost more than 10 billion Yuan (US$1.5 billion).

On the same day the bridge opened, the Qing-Huang Tunnel opened. It also transects Jiaozhou Bay, also connecting Huangdao District and the city of Qingdao, between the narrow mouth of the bay which is 6.17 kilometers (3.83 mi) wide.The tunnel is 9.47 kilometers (5.88 mi) long.

Concerns regarding the bridge’s safety were raised when Chinese media
reported that the bridge was opened with faulty elements, such as “incomplete crash-barriers, missing lighting and loose nuts on guard-rails”, with workers stating that “it would take two months before finishing all of the projects related to the bridge”. Shao Xinpeng, the bridge’s chief engineer, claimed that in spite of the safety report the bridge was safe and ready for traffic, adding that the problems highlighted in the reports were not major.

For more additional information check our China Tours experience!

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Chinese Cultural Information

On July 28, 2011, in Accomodation, Restaurants & Food, Tours, by Jack Li

The Culture of China is one of the world’s oldest and most complex cultures. Today there is 56 distinct recognized ethnic groups in China. In terms of numbers however, the pre-eminent ethnic group is the Han Chinese. Each region is often represented by three ancestral items. Come to China and learn more interesting things about […]

The Culture of China is one of the world’s oldest and most complex cultures. Today there is 56 distinct recognized ethnic groups in China. In terms of numbers however, the pre-eminent ethnic group is the Han Chinese. Each region is often represented by three ancestral items. Come to China and learn more interesting things about this culture, just check out the following links for further information: Air China, China Tours.

VALUES

Most social values are derived from Confucianism and Taoism. The subject of which school was the most influential is always debated as many concepts such as Neo-Confucianism, Buddhism and many others have come about. Reincarnation and other rebirth concept is a reminder of the connection between real-life and the after-life. In Chinese business culture, the concept of guanxi, indicating the primacy of relations over rules, has been well documented.

LANGUAGE

The ancientwritten standard was Classical Chinese. It was used for thousands of years, but was mostly reserved for scholars and intellectuals which form the “top” class of the society.

ARCHITECTURE

Chinese architecture, examples for which can be found from over 2,000 years ago, has long been a hallmark of the culture. There are certain features common to Chinese architecture, regardless of specific region or use. The most important is its
emphasis on width, as the wide halls of the Forbidden City serve as an example.
In contrast, Western architecture emphasize on height, though there are exceptions such as pagodas.

CUISINE

The overwhelmingly large variety of Chinese cuisine comes mainly from the practice of dynastic period emperors hosting banquets with 100 dishes per meal. A
countless number of imperial kitchen staff and concubines were involved in the
food preparation process. Over time, many dishes became part of the everyday citizen culture. Some of the highest quality restaurants with recipes close to the dynastic periods include Fangshan restaurant in Beihai Park Beijing and the Oriole Pavilion. Arguably all branches of Hong Kong eastern style or even American
Chinese food are in some ways rooted from the original dynastic cuisines.

CHINESE GAMES

A number of games and pastimes are popular within Chinese culture. The most common game is Mah Jong. The same pieces are used for other styled games such as Shanghai Solitaire. Others include Pai Gow, Pai gow poker and other bone domino games. Weiqi and Xiangqi are also popular. Ethnic games like Chinese yo-yo are also part of the culture.

MARTIAL ARTS

China is one of the main birth places of Eastern martial arts. The names of martial arts were called Kung Fu or its first name Wushu. China also includes the home to the well-respected Shaolin Monastery and Wudang Mountains. The arts have also co-existed with a variety of weapons including the more standard 18 arms (nine
long weapons, such as staff, spear, and the halberd; and nine short weapons
such as double daggers, swords, and axes). Legendary and controversial moves
like Dim Mak are also praised and talked about within the culture.

Do not hesitate coming to China, as it is one of the most stunning countries in the world, check out the following link for additional information: China Travel

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Yuanming Yuan

On July 27, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Parks & Gardens, by Jack Li

Yuanming Yuan is located in the northwest suburb of Beijing since Qing dynasty. In 1709, Emperor Kangxi bestowed it to his 4th son Yinzhen (who later became Emperor Yongzheng) and named it “Yuanming Yuan”. With the elaborate operation of five emperors Yongzheng, Qianlong, Jiaqing, Daoguang and Xianfeng, who had centralized a great deal of material […]

Yuanming Yuan is located in the northwest suburb of Beijing since Qing dynasty. In 1709, Emperor Kangxi bestowed it to his 4th son Yinzhen (who later became Emperor Yongzheng) and named it “Yuanming Yuan”. With the elaborate operation of five emperors Yongzheng, Qianlong, Jiaqing, Daoguang and Xianfeng, who had centralized a great deal of material resources, used countless skilled craftmen, and made uncountable labourors devote their blood and sweat to the project, finally Yuanming Yuan became a magnificent and beautiful resting palace.

When it came to midsummer, Qing emperors would come to spend the summer, go to court and handle military-political affairs in Yuanming Yuan, and so in the past, it was also called “Summer Palace”. Yuanming Yuan stretches 10 kilometers, consisting of Yuanming Yuan, Wanchun Yuan and Changchun Yuan. Yuanming Yuan is the biggest of them all; hence the entire scenic location was named after it. In addition, there are many accessory gardens distributed between the south, west and south of Yuanming Yuan. For example, Jingyi yuan in Fragrance Hill, Jingming Yuan and Qingyi Yuan in Yuquan Hill. The total area of Yuanming Yuan is over 5000 mou (335 hectares).

Yuanming Yuan has not only collected many famous scenic parks in regions south of the Yangtze River, but also transplanted western garden architecture. Therefore the garden embodies garden art from China and all over the world from the past and the present. There are magnificent palaces, exquisite airy pavilions and pagodas; “Business Streets”that symbolizes bustling markets, “Mountain Villa” that symbolizes the scenery of countryside; autumn moon over the calm lake and leifeng pagoda in evening glow that imitate the west lake of Hangzhou; famous scenic sites that imitates the lion forest garden in Suzhou; archtectures that were built by imitating poetic and artistic imagination of ancient poets and painters, such as the immortal abode on Penglai island and spring scenery in Wuling. It is observed that Yuanming Yuan is not only the crystallization of wisdom and sweat of Chinese labourers, but also the paradigm of Chinese archtecural art and culture. What’s more, Yuanming Yuan has treasured countless priceless assets, rare anicent records and precious historical relics such as painting and calligraphy in successive dynasties, gold, silver and jewelry, as well as porcelain in Song and Yuan Dynasty. Therefore, Yuanming Yuan is considered the thesaurus of human culture and one of the biggest museums in the world.

Yuanming Yuan is a large garden created by manual work, awe-inspring in size and design. Piling up hills and laying out waters in flats, refining garden architecture, diffusely planting trees and flowers make Yuanming Yuan an amazing sight. Continuous massifs, flexuose water level, pavilions, winding corridors, isles, and dike bridges cut the vast space into hundreds of scenery groups with hills and waters. The water space takes up two fifth area of Yuanming Yuan. Waters that were excavated in flats by manual work, collected in series to a complete water network by winding watercourses. There stands 250 artificial mounds, conjoining water systems and forming garden space. Fundamentally, Yuanming Yuan is a beautifully graceful region of rivers and lakes in southern China.

Yuanming Yuan Attractions

Garden of Ten Thousand Spring Seasons

European palaces

Yuanming Yuan Story

Penglai Yao Tai (an immortal abode on Penglai Island)

Penglai Yao Tai in Fuhai is based on the fairytale The Island of The Blessed, whose old name is Penglai Zhou. According to the legend Qin Shi Huang ( the first Emperor of Qin Dynasty) once sent a man named Xufu to lead a thousand young boys and girls to take a sea-voyage eastward, in an attempt to look for a fairyland for him. However, it cannot be anything but “voyagers talk about Yingzhou. Mists and billows are vague, so it is hard to reach the destination”.

As a result, Emperor Yongzheng ordered craftsmen to pile up three islands with rocks in the east lake of Yuanming Yuan, symbolizing the Penglai, Yingzhou and Fangzhang legend. They built airy pavilions and pagodas on the islands, which looked like five gold temples with jade floors.

Based on the implied meaning of “Xufu seek in the sea”, East Lake was named “Fuhai”. The sea is surrounded by over ten beautiful garden sites. Fuhai is six hundred meters wide; with a total area of 35 hectares. If you include the surrounding water areas, the area is equivalent to the water area of Beihai Park. The surface of the water is wide, allowing for large-scale dragon boat race activities to be held on dragon boat festival every year.On the evening of July 15th, Qing emperors would come here to enjoy the sight of floating river lanterns. In winter, when the lake was frozen, emperors would roam on Fuhai by sled. In fact, Fuhai is the water amusement center of Yuanming Yuan.

The Turpan Karez System

On July 27, 2011, in Adventure Trip, Tours, Transportation, by Jack Li

TheTurpan water system or Turfan water system (locally called karez water system) in Turpan, located in the Turpan Depression, Xinjiang, China, is a system adapted by the Turpan people. The Chinese claim the karez system as one of the three greatest water projects of China, linking it with the Dujiangyan Irrigation System and the Grand […]

TheTurpan water system or Turfan water system (locally called karez water system)
in Turpan, located in the Turpan Depression, Xinjiang, China, is a system adapted by the Turpan people. The Chinese claim the karez system as one of the three greatest water
projects of China, linking it with the Dujiangyan Irrigation System and the Grand Canal.
The karezes are a Persian invention, the word karez means “well” in the local Uyghur language.Turpan has the Turpan Water Museum ( Protected Area of the People’s Republic of China) dedicated to demonstrating its karez water system, as well as exhibiting other historical artifacts. You should come to this amazing place, so book your flight and tour know; check out the following links: Air China, China Tours.

Turpan’s well system was crucial in Turpan’s development as an important oasis stopover on the ancient Silk Road skirting the barren and hostile Taklamakan Desert. Turpan owes its prosperity to the water provided by its karez well system.

Turpan’s karez water system ismade up of a horizontal series of vertically dug wells that are  linked by underground water canals to collect water from the watershed from the base of the Tian Shan Mountains and the nearby Flaming Mountains. The canals channel the water to the surface, taking advantage of the current provided by the gravity of the downward slope of the Turpan Depression. The canals are mostly underground to reduce water evaporation.

In Xinjiang, the greatest number of karez wells are in the Turpan Depression, where today there remain over 1100 karez wells and channels having a total length of over 5,000
kilometres (3,100 mi). The local geography makes karez wells practical for agricultural irrigation and other uses. Turpan is located in the second deepest geographical depression
in the world, with over 4,000 km2  of land below sea level and with soil that forms a
sturdy basin. Water naturally flows down from the nearby mountains during the rainy season in an underground current to the low depression basin under the desert. The Turpan summer is very hot and dry with periods of wind and blowing sand. The water
from the underground channels provides a stable water source year round, independent of season.

IMPORTANCE

Ample water was crucial to Turpan, so that the oasis city could service the many caravans on the Silk Route resting there near a route skirting the Taklamakan Desert. The caravans included merchant traders and missionaries with their armed escorts, animals including camels, sometimes numbering into the thousands, along with camel drivers, agents and other personnel, all of whom might stay for a week or more. The caravans needed pastures for their animals, resting facilities, trading bazaars for conducting business, and replenishment of food and water. Check out all your possibilities to come to China in the following link: China Airlines

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Summer Palace Travel Tips

On July 26, 2011, in Beijing, Summer Palace, Tours, Travel Info, by Jack Li

The best time to visit the Summer Palace is when it is sunny and clear. You can enjoy the view of the Kunming Lake and the general view of the City of Beijing from the Tower of Buddhist Incense. In addition, the coloured paintings on the buildings are exquisite. It is better to wear shoes […]

The best time to visit the Summer Palace is when it is sunny and clear. You can enjoy the view of the Kunming Lake and the general view of the City of Beijing from the Tower of Buddhist Incense. In addition, the coloured paintings on the buildings are exquisite. It is better to wear shoes suitable for a long walk.

Best Time to Visit Summer Palace

You had better come and visit the Summer Palace from April to June and from August to November, when it is neither too hot nor too cold. If you come in springtime, you can enjoy watching the flourishing flowers.

Summer Palace Best Routes

Enter by Donggong Gate (East Palace Gate)

  1. Donggong Gate—Renshou Hall (Hall of Benevolence and Longevity)—Dehe Garden (Hall of Virtue and Harmony)—Wenchang Pavilion—Yulan Hall (Hall of Jade Ripples) and Yiyun House—Leshou Hall (Hall of Joyful Longevity)—Long Gallery—Paiyun Hall—the Tower of Buddhist Incense—stone boat—to South Lake Island by boat—the Seventeen-arch Bridge—Bronze Ox—Xinjian Gong Gate (Newly-built Imperial City Gate) (about 2.5 hours)
  2. Donggong Gate—Renshou Hall (Hall of Benevolence and Longevity)—Dehe Garden (Hall of Virtue and Harmony)—Wenchang Pavilion—Yulan Hall (Hall of Jade Ripples) and Yiyun House—Leshou Hall (Hall of Joyful Longevity)—Long Gallery—Paiyun Hall—the Tower of Buddhist Incense—stone boat—the Ploughing and Weaving Picture Scenic Spot—Ruyi Gate (Gate of Wish Fulfillment) (about 3 hours)
  3. Donggong Gate—Renshou Hall (Hall of Benevolence and Longevity)—Dehe Garden (Hall of Virtue and Harmony)—Wenchang Pavilion—Yulan Hall (Hall of Jade Ripples) and Yiyun House—Leshou Hall (Hall of Joyful Longevity)—Long Gallery—Paiyun Hall—the Tower of Buddhist Incense—Suzhou Street—North Palace Gate (about 2 hours)
  4. Donggong Gate—Renshou Hall (Hall of Benevolence and Longevity)—Dehe Garden (Hall of Virtue and Harmony)—Wenchang Pavilion—Yulan Hall (Hall of Jade Ripples) and Yiyun House—Leshou Hall (Hall of Joyful Longevity)—Long Gallery—Paiyun Hall—the Tower of Buddhist Incense—Suzhou Street—Danning Hall (Hall of Calmness)—Xiequ Garden (the Harmonious Garden)—East Palace Gate (about 2.5 hours)

Summer Palace Tickets

1. Entrance ticket: RMB 30 per person (high season)

RMB 20 per person (low season)

2. Half-price ticket: RMB 15 per person (high season, students only)

RMB 10 per person (high season, students only)

3.Joint ticket: RMB 60 per person (high season)

RMB 40 per person (low season)

4.Single ticket for one attraction within the Summer Palace(year-round price; included in the joint ticket):

The Tower of Buddhist Incense: RMB 10 per person

Suzhou Street: RMB 10 per person

Wenchang Yard: RMB 20 per person

Dehe Garden: RMB 5 per person

How to get to Summer Palace

By Bus

209, 330, 331, 332, 346, 394, 601, 608, 626, 683, 690, 696, 718 (get off at Summer Palace Station)

By Subway

Take Line 4 to Beigongmen Station. You can also get off at Xiyuan, then walk towards the west along Tongqing Street for 500 metres and arrive at East Palace Gate.

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The Cloud Dispelling Hall

On July 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

The Cloud Dispelling Hall (simplified Chinese:排云殿; traditional Chinese: 排雲殿; pinyin: Pái Yún Diàn; literally “the Hall where the cloud is dispelled”) is at the centre in front of the Longevity Hill. It was built by Qianlong for his mother’s 60th birthday. It was burnt down by the British and French joint troops in 1860. In […]

The Cloud Dispelling Hall (simplified Chinese:排云殿; traditional Chinese: 排雲殿; pinyin: Pái Yún Diàn; literally “the Hall where the cloud is dispelled”) is at the centre in front of the Longevity Hill. It was built by Qianlong for his mother’s 60th birthday. It was burnt down by the British and French joint troops in 1860. In 1886, Empress Ci Xi reconstructed it and changed its name into “Cloud Dispelling Hall” to hold her Grand Birthday Ceremony. It also served as the place where the officials went to worship Ci Xi when she lived in the Summer Palace or on her birthday. Now the hall has on display many birthday presents from the imperial princes and ministers to Ci Xi.

The word “Pai Yun”, meaning “dispel the cloud”, is taken from a poem which describes the imminent appearance of the Gods out of the cloudy and misty hall. Viewed from a distance, the Cloud Dispelling Hall forms an ascending line together with the decorated archway, the Cloud Dispelling Gate, Golden-water Bridge and Ergong Gate, which is the most spectacular building complex in the Summer Palace.

Summer Palace

The Long Gallery

On July 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

The Long Gallery(simplified Chinese: 长廊; traditional Chinese: 長廊; pinyin: Cháng Láng; literally “the Long Gallery”) is located between the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. The total length of the gallery is 728 meters, making it the longest gallery in the world. It is most famous for the colorful paintings on the roof of the […]

The Long Gallery(simplified Chinese: 长廊; traditional Chinese: 長廊; pinyin: Cháng Láng; literally “the Long Gallery”) is located between the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. The total length of the gallery is 728 meters, making it the longest gallery in the world. It is most famous for the colorful paintings on the roof of the gallery. Some of them present sceneries of mountains and lakes, some depict beautiful flowers and birds, others even tell stories in classical Chinese literature such as A Dream of Red Mansion and The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

There used to be no paintings along the Long Gallery. It is Empress Ci Xi who ordered to paint them. Why would she do so? It is said that although the Summer Palace was filled with beautiful sceneries, Empress Ci Xi felt bored after she had lived in it for a while. She hoped that she could see numerous different views without walking for a long time. Her servants then lighted her to the idea to paint the gallery with all kinds of attractions and stories. Soon after that, the Long Gallery became colorful. Empress Ci Xi was very satisfied with the renovated gallery.

Summer Palace

The Seventeen-arch Bridge

On July 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Lakes, by Jack Li

The Seventeen-arch Bridge (simplified Chinese: 十七孔桥; traditional Chinese: 十七孔橋; pinyin: Shí Qī Kǒng Qiáo; literally “the Bridge of Seventeen arches”) stretches over the wide Kunming Lake. It is 150 metres in length and 8 metres in width, and is composed of seventeen arches, hence its name. It is the largest stone bridge in the country. […]

The Seventeen-arch Bridge (simplified Chinese: 十七孔桥; traditional Chinese: 十七孔橋; pinyin: Shí Qī Kǒng Qiáo; literally “the Bridge of Seventeen arches”) stretches over the wide Kunming Lake. It is 150 metres in length and 8 metres in width, and is composed of seventeen arches, hence its name. It is the largest stone bridge in the country. The beautiful streamline arch bridge drives away the emptiness of the Kunming Lake. On the railings on each side of the bridge there are all together 544 stone lions of diverse sizes and postures, and it has 59 more lions than famous Marco Polo Bridge. As you talk along the bridge, you can enjoy watching the interesting stone sculptures.

All of the inscribed boards on the Seventeen-arch Bridge are all written by Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. One on the southern side of the bridge says “Xiudong Lingbo”, meaning that the bridge is like a rainbow stretching over the lake. Another one on the north side says “Lingtuo Yanyue”, comparing the bridge to a mythical animal lying across the water like a crescent moon. The night view of the bridge is particularly beautiful.

How was the Seventeen-arch Bridge built?

According to folklore, when the bridge was built, many skilled craftsmen were invited to join the project. The Chinese white jade stone was all excavated by hand in the Stone Nest and transferred to the site by man power. One day a man came to the construction site. He was in his seventies and has long hair and a dusty face. He walked around with a box on his back and shouted repeatedly, “Does anyone want to buy Dragon-gate stone?” The workers thought he was mad because he looked dirty, and no one listened to him.

The old man stayed on the site for three days shouting. But still, no one took any notice. So he walked away from the site. He was taking a rest under a tree when suddenly it began to rain. He was shivering all over. Right at the moment, Wang Daye who lived nearby walked past the tree. He saw the poor old man and took him into his own house.

Wang offered him a place to live in and things to eat. The old man stayed there for a whole year, chiselling the stone he had carried. One morning he said to Wang, “I’m leaving. I’ll never forget your kindness. I’ll give you the stone in return.” Wang did not think the stone was anything special and asked the man to take it with him. The old man said, “This stone will be priceless. You’ll see.” Then he left.

The construction of the Seventeen-arch Bridge was almost completed. Qianlong Emperor was also prepared to come and inspect it in a few days. However, the last stone at the centre of the bridge would not fit however hard the craftsmen tried. It was such an emergency because the emperor would be very angry to see the bridge unfinished still. At that moment somebody spoke of the old man with the Dragon-gate stone, and the chief engineer sent people to look for him.

They soon got new of the whereabouts of the stone. The chief engineer went to Wang’s house and found the stone under the window. He measured it and it fit precisely. They bought the stone from Wang and fixed it onto the bridge. The project was complete!

Afterwards, the craftsmen talked about this and decided that the old man was no other than Lu Ban, the most famous carpenter and builder in China who lived in 5 B.C. His spirit had come specially to help them build the bridge!

Summer Palace

The Kunming Lake

On July 26, 2011, in Beijing, Lakes, Nature Scenery, by Jack Li

The Kunming Lake(simplified Chinese: 昆明湖; traditional Chinese: 昆明湖; pinyin: Kūnmíng Hú; literally “The Kunming Lake”) is the largest lake in the Summer Palace, occupying three quarters of the whole palace. The southern part of the lake presents a halcyon and verdant waterscape while the northern part of the lake is a very good viewing-point where […]

The Kunming Lake(simplified Chinese: 昆明湖; traditional Chinese: 昆明湖; pinyin: Kūnmíng Hú; literally “The Kunming Lake”) is the largest lake in the Summer Palace, occupying three quarters of the whole palace. The southern part of the lake presents a halcyon and verdant waterscape while the northern part of the lake is a very good viewing-point where one can get the overview of the graceful towers and halls in the Summer Palace. There is a causeway called the West Causeway which stretches across the lake. There are many peaches and willows planted on the causeway, creating a very poetic environment. Another famous attraction, the Seventeen-arch Bridge stretches over the lake like an elegant rainbow. The West Causeway and the Seventeen-arch Bridge divide the whole lake into three parts, and in each part there is a small artificial island: the Penglai Island, the Fangzhang Island, and the Yingzhou Island. The designer of the Summer Palace got the idea of creating three islands from Chinese Ancient Legends on the lake. The legends said that there are three islands in the East China Sea called “Penglai”, “Fangzhang”, and”Yingzhou”, and they are the residences of the Chinese gods. In the Chinese history, many emperors would send out their emissaries to the East China Sea to look for these Gods, they believe that they could help them be immortal.

The whole formation of the Kunming Lake is an imitation of another famous Chinese attraction, the West Lake in Hangzhou, which is in Southern China. Emperor Qianlong had been to that region six times during his reign, and the West Lake impressed him a lot. Rumor has it that he met a beautiful lady when he was wandering around the lake and fell in love with her. Maybe that is why he asked the designer to build an attraction that looked almost the same as the West Lake in the palace.

Summer Palace

Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)

On July 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Must-sees, Summer Palace, by Jack Li

The Summer Palace (simplified Chinese: 颐和园; traditional Chinese: 頤和園; pinyin: Yíhé Yuán; literally “Gardens of Nurtured Harmony”) is mainly dominated by the Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. Situated on the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. It used to be one […]

The Summer Palace (simplified Chinese: 颐和园; traditional Chinese: 頤和園; pinyin: Yíhé Yuán; literally “Gardens of Nurtured Harmony”) is mainly dominated by the Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. Situated on the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. It used to be one of the temporary imperial palaces for the Qing Dynasty Emperors. The Summer Palace today is the largest royal park in China, and is well preserved as a Key Culture Relics Protection Site. It holds a collection of ancient arts and also has breathtaking sceneries and magnificent architecture. The Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden, and is amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

The Summer Palace is actually a reconstruction based on the Qingyi Palace. In AD 1750, Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty spent 4.48 million silver dollars on establishing the Qingyi Palace, a present to his mother, Xiaosheng. This palace served to connect four other royal palaces, forming a splendid imperial garden. However, in AD 1860, the 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng, Qingyi Palace was burnt down during the war with Britain and France. Later in AD 1888, the last Empress in Chinese history, Ci Xi, wanted to hold a grand ceremony to celebrate her 60th birthday. In the name of raising war funds, she levied a heavy tax on people and gathered more than 5 million silver dollars, which was enough for the reconstruction. Then she asked one of the most outstanding architects in Qing Dynasty, Changyan Lei to take charge of the project. The new palace was named the Summer Palace. It was frequently visited by the royal family in summer because of its cool environment and its beautiful lake scene. Although the Summer Palace experienced a terrible devastation in AD 1900 and was looted of almost all its treasures, it remains stunningly beautiful. A tour around the Summer Palace is undoubtedly a feast for eye. If you are planning to travel to Beijing, remember to put it in your schedule, because if you do not visit the Summer Palace your trip in Beijing.

Summer Palace Attractions

The Kunming Lake

The Seventeen-arch Bridge

The Long Gallery

The Cloud Dispelling Hall

Summer Palace Story

1. The Cold Palace

To understand where the Cold Palace is, we have to talk about the concubines of the emperor. The feudal emperor had supreme power and he could pick whoever he wanted to be his concubine. Therefore, the emperor had a great number of concubines living in the royal palace. However, if a concubine became out of favour with the emperor, she was left to rot in the palace because she could not leave the palace at will. This was the most tragic end. The Cold Palace of the Summer Palace does not refer to a particular palace; anyplace where those concubines or sons of the emperor were imprisoned is commonly called “the Cold Palace”. And there were several such places in the Summer Palace. Cheng Fei, one of the imperial concubines at the end of the Ming Dynasty, offended the powerful eunuch Wei Zhong xian, and was taken from Changchun Palace(where the concubines lived in the Imperial Palace) to Qianxi in the western part of the Summer Palace, and lived there for four years. Many other concubines had also been driven there. It is said that the most favoured concubine of Guangxu Emperor, Zhen Fei, was shut inside the Beisan Tower to the north of Jingqi Tower, before she was drowned in the well by the order of Empress Ci Xi. The place was destroyed but it still can be traced on the west of Zhen Fei Well.

2. Empress Ci Xi’s meals in the Summer Palace

Being the last empress of China, Empress Ci Xi was famous for her luxurious lifestyle. When she stayed in the Summer Palace, the servants had to prepare hundreds of delicious dishes for her. All the dishes she took could be divided into meat dishes, vegetable dishes, pastry, and fried snacks. The chefs used all kinds of precious ingredients such as pearl powder, bear’s paw, edible bird’s nest, etc.

Empress Ci Xi greatly enjoyed the dishes cooked with flowers. She loved chicken soup with chrysanthemum petals. Sometimes when she was wandering inside the palace, she would even pick a chrysanthemum and eat it. Apart from this, she also liked to take them with tea, which became quite popular among the common Chinese people. Rose, lotus, and lily teas were her favorites.

Every meal of Empress Ci Xi’s was like a grand ceremony. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner there would be more than a hundred different dishes, and for high tea, about fifty dishes. All the dishes were very elaborately prepared. Take the rice as an example, every grain in the rice were carefully selected by the maids. It was quite a tedious job. The cost of one single meal of Ci Xi equals the annual living expenses of an ordinary family.

To sustain her extravagance, she levied heavy taxes on the people. Many people started to resist her rule. She was very afraid that somebody might poison her dishes, so she asked a servant to put a silver needle in every dish before she ate them. If the dish was poisoned, the needle would lose brightness and turn dark.

3. The Tower of Buddhist Incense

It’s said that the Tower of the Buddhist Incense (simplified Chinese: 佛香阁; traditional Chinese: 佛香阁; pinyin:Fóxiāng Gé; literally “the Tower of Buddhist Incense”) was built to drive away the ghosts.

When Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty decided to build a royal palace there, he wanted to remove the Longevity Hill so that the Kunming Lake would be larger. However, when the builders dug half-way down the hill, they were surprised to see that they had reached a grave. The tombstone was inscribed “Queen Wen”. The builders didn’t know what to do with the grave, so they past the news onto the Emperor. Queen Wen was a real character in Chinese history. She was the wife of Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1206-1368). Since she possessed extraordinary political wisdom, Kublai Khan loved her very much and held an elaborate funeral for her after she had died. No wonder Emperor Qianlong was curious about those exquisite antiques buried with her. So he went to the construction site and asked the builders to open the tomb. When they got into the tomb, they found a curse inscribed by the entrance, saying ”Whoever disturbs the tomb would be severely punished.”. Emperor Qianlong got really scared, so he told the builders to close the grave and then he ran away. Later, he went to a great Buddhist master and asked him how to avoid Queen Wen’s revenge. The master said that if he built a Buddhist tower on top of the Longevity Hill, the ghost of Queen Wen would be locked up and she would not bring any harm. Qianlong followed his advice, and that is how the Tower of Buddhist Incense came into being.

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