I had scheduled a tour to the Great Wall on Sunday and was picked up bright and early. We started at the Summer Palace, built during the Ming Dynasty, like the Forbidden City. While this was a palace, more acts of state happened here than at the Forbidden City. Empress Dowager Ci Xi and her long tenure as regent dominated the stories our guide told us. She sounds like quite the force of nature.
The above is one of the most important Buddhist temples in China but during the Cultural Revolution, the statues were torn down and melted. The inside is now empty but the statues have been replaced with copies for tourists. Below, is a stone boat. The last emperor built it and our tour guide told us a really great fable about how the emperor is the boat and the people are the water and they rise and fall together. In foolishness, the last emperor had a stone boat commissioned that did not relay on the backs of the people to float.
And then we headed off to a completely tourist trap of a jade factory where we were given a short demonstration and a long sales pitch. We did eat a pretty traditional lunch and then we headed to the Great Wall! It was a very hot and hazy day but it was sort of unreal to actually be there. On the way back to the city we stopped at another tourist trap place, this time a tea house. Although I did learn a lot of about tea and bought three kinds of tea to take home.