Summer Palace in Beijing

Last weekend I had a really brief visit to China (only for 3 days), luckily of those 3 days one was Sunday so I did not need to do any work and had time to wander around instead.

When coming to China this time everybody warned me that Beijing is not pretty at this time of a year, humid with a lot of smoke in the sky, but surprisingly when I arrived the sky was blue on Sunday and also to some degree on Monday before becoming totally covered in smoke on Tuesday.

We have already been to the Summer Palace on our first trip to Beijing (here are some pictures, though quality is not great), but the visit ended abruptly as the rain started. Also the palace itself is huge so you really need entire day to see all of it.

This time I decided to visit south-eastern part of the palace that we have not been to and the plan was to wait for a sunset there.

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"New palace gate". The cheapest ticket is 30 RMB and does not include entrance to any buildings and exhibitions

17 arches bridge
17 arch bridge and Nanhu Island.

The bridge connects eastern shore of Kunming lake with Nanchu Island.

By the time I arrived the sky was partially covered with clouds and I started to fear that my plans for sunset pictures won't materialize.

17 arches bridge
The bridge itself has 17 arches. Big one in the middle + all other to one of the sides would result in 9 arches which is some sort of lucky number in Chinese. Built somewhere between 1711 and 1799 it has a length of 164 yards (150 meters) and width of 8.75 yards (8 meters).

Since the Summer palace is so big with a big lake in the middle, there is a number of ferries available to quickly transport one to various locations on lake shore.

View of Kunming lake
View of the northern part of the lake with main palace structures.

View on Tower of Fragnance of Buddha
Ferry and the Tower of Fragrance of Buddha.

Crowd on 17 arch bridge
A lot of people were walking across the bridge as I approached it.

17 arch bridge
That's the bridge from southern side of the shore.

17 arch bridge from WengChang pavillion

Beast at one side of 17 arch bridge, east part
At both entrances to the bridge strange beasts are located.

1st lion on 17th arch bridge
Also the sides of the bridge are covered with carved marble lion statues. There are 544 of them. The first in like looks like this.

Lion on the 17 arch bridge
And the rest looks like this.

Row of lions on the side of the 17 arch bridge
Long row of lions.

Kuoru Ting (Spacious) Pavillion from 17 arch bridge
On eastern shore of the lake there where the bridge connects a spacious pavilion (Kuoru Ting) is located.

Kuoru Ting (Spacious) pavillion
The pavilion covers an area of 1400 square feet (130 square meters) and is the biggest pavilion of this type.

West side of Kinming lake
Western part of the lake from the bridge.

View of Kunming lake

View on Tower of Fragnance of Buddha from 17 arch bridge
Some experiments with HDR.

View of Kunming lake

The lake was filled with all sort of small colorful boats in addition to ferries. You can rent such a boat at one of the many boat stations on the shore.

Gate on Nanhu Island
A gate near a southern pear on Nanhu island.

17 arch bridge from Nanhu island south pier
17-arch bridge from southern pier of Nanhu Island. I was lucky that there was this bit of sunshine. Also HDR.

17 arch bridge from Nanhu island south pier
And another picture from southern pier.

The structure of the island is such that you cannot walk on it's shore completely, instead the southern part has a dead-end at the pier.
So from the pier I turned around and went in the other direction to the northern part.

View on Tower of Fragnance of Buddha from Hanxu Tang
Tower of Fragrance of Buddha from northern part of island from Hanxu Tang.

View of Kunming lake
Another view of the lake from northern side of Nanhu island.

A boat in sunlight in Kunming Lake
A boat in sunshine seen from west side of Nanhu island.

View on Tower of Fragnance of Buddha from Nanhu Island
The tower of Fragrance of Buddha from west side of Nanhu island.

Soth docks on Nanhu Island from west side
And this is the dead-end of the road on the western side of the Nanhu Island.

So I again turned back but decided to go through the island this time, not on its shore.

Hanxu Tang from west
Hanxu Tang (Hall of embracing the Universe) from middle of the Island. Originally it was a 3-story building called "Hall for watching
the Moon Toad", it was later rebuilt with just one floor. From here emperors enjoyed the moonlight during summer and autumn evenings.
Also was used to oversee naval fleet and academy maneuvers.

Dragon king temple roofs
Rooftops of Dragon King temple.

17 arch bridge

17 arch bridge
Finally I returned back to the 17-arch bridge.

17 arch bridge view from Nanhu island
The bridge itself

Beast at one side of 17 arch bridge, Nanhu Island
One of the beasts at the island side of the bridge.

On the 17 arch beidge

Boat station at Kunming lake
Boat station.

Kuoru Ting (Spacious) Pavillion from 17 arch bridge
Spacious pavilion.

Kites in the sky
A man was standing on the bridge and just managing a string with kites.

Kite master on 17 arch bridge
He started not so long ago, so the kites were pretty close and I was able to catch it all in a single frame.

Kite master on 17 arch bridge
He gathered lots of spectators too ;)

Kite master on 17 arch bridge

It was about one hour left before sunset so I decided to wait a bit on a shore.

Souther part of Kunming lake
Waiting for the sun to come out of clouds.

Kunming lake and 17 arch bridge
A brief sun appearance let me take a picture of the bridge even before sunset. As the sun was setting lower and lower the more and more of the bridge was covered in a shade from the Island trees, though.

Yu Feng pagoda before sunset
Nice sun rays creating a contrast background for Yu Feng pagoda on the western shore.

17 arch bridge
Yet another HDR attempt.

Photographers gathering to take sunset pictures at Summer Palace
As the sun finally got out of the clouds before setting a lot of photographers gathered to catch those golden moments.

Photographers at sunset in Summer palace
Photographers at sunset ;)

17 arch bridge at sunset

17 arch bridge at sunset

17 arch bridge at sunset

Tower of Fragnance of Buddha at sunset
HDR of the lake and the Tower of Fragrance of Buddha right after the sunset.

As the sun set the person flying the kites started to bring them down.

Kite master brings kites down in the evening

Kite master brings kites down in the evening

After sunset at 17 arch bridge
The sun has set behind the mountain even though it was not official sunset time yet.

Clouds over Kunming Lake after sunset
Beautiful pink clouds over the lake right after the sunset.

Bronze Ox (Tongniu)
On my way out I noticed this famous bronze ox that I totally forgot about. Made in 1755.
It was said that the ox is positioned here to prevent floods. There is a sign on the back of the Ox made out of 80 characters said to be written by Emperor Qianlong himself.

Overall I spent a great evening in the Summer Palace and I was totally lucky to see so much of sun and blue sky on that day.