Day 112 Palaces and Pandas in Beijing, China

We woke to our first full day in Beijing and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in the hostel’s serene courtyard.  

We used the common room as a study for the boys to catch up on some school work and got ready to start our day of sightseeing.  First stop, the Summer Palace.  We caught the train to Xiyuan station and were immediately bombarded by taxi drivers wanting the drive us to the palace.  We escaped into the brand new McDonald’s 20 metres away and had some coffee to start our day and work out the direction we needed to go. 

We headed in the direction of the crowd and made it successfully to the Summer Palace ticket selling area.  We bought tickets for 30 yuan; not the more expensive 60 yuan tickets that give you entry to some of the palace buildings; we figured it wasn’t necessary to spend that amount of time looking at more temples with children. We chose to walk along the Western corridor section. We grabbed some cheap dumplings and hot dogs in the park for lunch and then watched a guy try to fly his kite.  It was too windy and it landed in the lake and came out covered in slime!


We had read you could get a boat from the Beijing Zoo to the Summer Palace; we figured that would work in reverse!  We investigated the ticket booth and sure enough we could buy zoo and boat tickets.  They failed to tell us that we would have to wait for 30 minutes for the first boat and then would have to change boats at the next stop and wait another 30 minutes!  There was a bonus travelling in the reverse direction; the crowd getting off the boat heading to the Summer Palace was huge but we had a private ride all the way to the first boat stop and only one other small group with us going to the zoo at the second boat.  Waiting for the boats wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for the impending thunderstorm which conveniently started pouring on us when we arrived at the zoo! 

I had my trusty umbrella with me but this day the boys didn’t have their raincoats.  Never fear, the raincoat and umbrella sellers had set up by now and we quickly purchased 3 plastic raincoats for 9 yuan.  Our raincoats and umbrella weren’t doing the greatest job at keeping us dry but nonetheless we set off on a mission to find the Giant Pandas. Off we went.

We didn’t arrive at the Zoo until after 3 pm. This meant we had the Panda viewing to ourselves when we finally found them and didn’t have to peek at them between thousands of Chinese tourists (they’d gone to the Summer Palace!)  One Panda slept, one ate bamboo and three paced up and down their walls to the gates looking for the handlers to pass them more food.  We were somewhat wet and cold and the rain wasn’t easing so we abandoned the zoo for what looked like a mall across the street. Well, it had been a mall once but was now quite derelict. We caught a train out of there to a shopping mall we found the night before.  Found a place for dinner and got more groceries before heading home.


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