Today was our final day here, and the first bad weather we had. And, actually it wasn’t that bad, just sprinkling and overcast periodically through the day. We made the most of it by putting on our raincoats and heading towards the summer palace. We took a city bus to the zoo and from there hopped on a boat ride up the canal. The boat took at least an hour and was quite pleasant; it was a nice enclosed mini-barge with big windows to see out of.
Once we got to the summer palace we discovered that it is huge! It’s in a wonderful big green park with a huge lake. I guess this is the place the emperor would come during the hot summers for a break from the cement forbidden city. Even though it was sprinkling it was still pretty crowded, though quite enjoyable. We ended up staying for a few hours walking around seeing all the parks, the neat buildings, and the huge temples.
Our hostel had given us directions for a bus to take home, but they weren’t clear about which gate we should exit. The place is huge, so we assumed the main ‘north’ gate would be the one, however, that wasn’t the case and we ended up walking around the outside to the east gate. It was easy enough, though, and we found the bus just fine. The ride home was long, but no one can complain for under a dollar. We decided to ride past our hostel and go to the Xidan shopping area a mile or so away. It is the place where young Chinese people shop to be seen. It was so crowded and nuts for blocks and blocks of giant department stores filled with individual booths selling clothes, accessories, bags, cosmetics, and anything trendy.
We decided to walk back to our hostel and get some dinner enroute. Our meal ended up being at a steam dumpling restaurant and simply chose about 12 different ones from the menu, plus two ‘porridge’ bowls. It was great, and filling! The porridge was really grits or hot rice cereal and they brought out sugar to sweeten. Yumm. zoe loved the grits. Tonight we are just hanging out here at the hostel adding pictures and watching some movies in the common room. We’ve arranged for a taxi to pick us up tomorrow at 6am – our return flight to Seoul is at 8:40. We are excited to get home and see Arlo, but it will be a bummer to be finished with vacation. We have truly enjoyed China! There are many places we would love to return too, and others we’d love to see but just didn’t have the time. This country is truly vast and amazing.