19 Sep 2013
I had the chance to visit the Summer Palace in Beijing a few years back. Built in the 12th century as an imperial palace for the Emperor, the palace is considered one of the finest examples of horticulture landscape in China. No brainer – the best time to visit the Summer Palace is in the summer (I actually read this somewhere on the internet!)
Honestly, after visiting the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and the Great Wall of China, I find the palace rather boring. However, there were a couple of stories about the place that caught my attention.
According to the tour guide, the palace is a resting place for emperors during the summer – like a chalet for us Singaporeans I guess. I could not find a good write-up about the Summer Place, but from what I heard (unconfirmed source back in Singapore), it was a place for the reigning emperor to meet his concubines, away from the watchful eyes of the wife who is residing in the main palace. That made a lot of sense. You would not want to be dating two “chicks” in the same “farm” and at the same time.
Another story that I found interesting was about a princess who fell into the lake. Fearing for her life, the princess screamed for someone to save her from drowning. The Emperor came by and asked her to stand up. The princess stood up and realised that she was only knee-deep in the water.
Yes! While occupying 2.97km2, three quarters of the area is covered by shallow lakes.