summer palace (august 10, 2011)

We have been back in Beijing for just about 24 hours now and our idyllic summer in Vancouver already seems like a distant memory. Beijing is a completely different place than the city we first came to in January. It was so cold and dry in the winter. Summer is the complete opposite. We had been warned, but are still shocked, by how hot it is now. The humidity is hovering around 100 %.   My hair is huge!

After experiencing only 20 minutes of total rainfall in our first six months, we have been surprised by the monsoon downpours that we have seen in the last day and that Beijingers have been suffering through for the past month. On a positive note, everything is extraordinarily green and lush.

Chowder is huge after being spoiled, over fed and under exercised while we were away.  Hunter now calls him fatty! I dragged him out this morning at 6 am to begin his new fitness regime. All our favorite gentle wooded walks have become jungle, impossible to navigate without a machete. Our old dirt paths are now mud.  We returned home by 7.  It was getting too hot to walk and we were covered in muck. He was exhausted. I was frustrated, the mud made everything so slippery it was hard to walk.

I am starting to sympathize with the evil Empress Cixi and her beautiful Summer Palace.  History has blamed her extravagance and desire to hold onto power for the fall of the Qing Dynasty and beginning of revolution in China.  She rose from lowly concubine to mother of one Emperor, and true power behind the throne.  Those who got in her way were executed, exiled or just died at particularly convenient moments, including emperors and empresses.

She is widely criticized for spending the money that was earmarked for restoring the navy to prominence on rebuilding the Summer Palace, her escape from the heat.  I, for one, am glad she did.  It is an idyllic spot. The most beautiful gardens surround a huge man made lake and wonderful palace building are dotted through out. To be there with out the masses of people who currently flock here every weekend, must have been bliss.

After fighting our way through hoards of people to collect our luggage, clear customs and get to our car in the boiling weather, only to have face rush hour traffic to our house, I have my own theory about Cixi.  I think she was just a bit tired and cranky! I would have loved to lop off a few particularly annoying and pushy heads.

The boys go back to school tomorrow. They are not at all happy about it and feel they have been cheated out of half their holiday. Can’t say I am looking forward to hounding them about homework either!  Oh well. Peking Duck this weekend should get us back on track for China. Hope the rest of your summer is wonderful!

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