I spent most of the day exploring the Summer Palace With Liu, an ex Chinese special forces guy, who like me is traveling solo around the country. We hit it off pretty quickly when we were both up in the morning and in to stretches and push-ups while the rest of the people in the dorm slept off hangovers…
It’s interesting how easy to communicate with people without knowing much common language, with a phone and the right apps you can speak into the phone, it automatically dictates and translates so that you can then pass it over to them. Makes meeting new people much easier!
The Palace itself was beautiful. I personally was more interested in the architecture from a practical stance, as a functioning and defensive fortress. It was unfortunately rather crowded and touristy with you having to pay for different sections of the place. Liu was game for pretty much anything though so we did some fence jumping and bush bashing to check out some more inaccessible and interesting locations.
The canal and boats added character to what would otherwise be another typical busy mess of vendors trying to sell overpriced water, junk food and trinkets.
Overall it was worth the trip, however the heat and the pretty decent hike we ended up doing meant we were both pretty tired by the end.