Sarah was flying out Sunday morning at 1 AM and so I thought I would take her around town again. At around 10 AM, I headed to the Friendship hotel, and that's when the rain started. it was a mere shower when we headed to the subway station. I had other plans to go out of the city (Xiangshan, Tanze Temple, ...), but decided, since the forecast was moderate rain during the day (with torrential downpour in the evening), we would be better off going to Yihe Yuan, i.e., the Summer Palace, whose northern entrance is next to a subway stop and conveniently on the same line that ran past the Friendship Hotel.
It was probably moderate rain when we got to the Summer Palace. There were still a lot of people going in and so we decided we would chance it. But instead of heading straight up the hill to see the temple (Foxiang Ge, or Buddha Fragrance Temple), I decided we should walk around and head straight to Kunming lake and the main part of the Summer Palace. The downpour continued as we walked on the northern part of the lake and along the famed long corridor/pavilion (hand painted). Still a lot of tourist groups walking in the rain, though just about everybody was waiting under cover (pavilions all around). There were stretches that the foot traffic was horrible.
|Many tourists were taking the ferry in the Summer Palace (photo by Sarah)|
Still we pressed on and made it to the 17-Arches Bridge and then over to see the little island on the other side. The rain was coming down with no sign of letting up. So we decided to leave, but heading back to the subway was not really an option. I didn't think going back and fighting tourist traffic was a good idea. So we headed out the new east entrance where I knew there was a bus terminal with multiple bus lines heading back into the city, some in the general direction of the Friendship Hotel.
At this point, it was raining heavily. The torrential rain in the original forecast was probably wrong by 6-8 hours. I think the city government started to ratchet up the storm warning, but Sarah & I, with only my dumb-phone, didn't have access to this information. Anyway, at the bus terminal, all 3 bus lines went past the Purple Bamboo Garden, which is reasonably close to the Friendship. Close to the northwest corner of the Purple Bamboo Garden, there was also a quiet restaurant (with decent Dongbei cuisine and free wifi) and so we got on the first bus that came.
The Purple Bamboo Garden is about half way between the edge of the old city and the Summer Palace and is along the water way that connects the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. Supposedly the Empress Dowager would stop at the Purple Bamboo Garden, meditate at the Wanshou temple, before heading to the Summer Palace --- these trips were done entirely by boat.
The 374 bus followed the canals which ended at the southern corner of the Summer Palace and followed the water way to the Fourth Ring road. There the bus deviated from the water way and turned into the multitude of office and residential buildings within the Fourth Ring loop. Eventually, the bus went past the water way again where the canal came out of the Purple Bamboo Garden, passed Wanshou Temple and then under the Third Ring road.
|The snack stand across the street from the restaurant (photo by Sarah)|