U.S.-China Institute at Bryant University

2010 K-12 Study Trip to China

Day 1 (7/31) Shanghai Day 2 (8/1) Shanghai Day 3 (8/2)
Day 4 (8/3) Suzhou Day 5 (8/4) Hangzhou Day 6 (8/5) Hangzhou
Day 7 (8/6) Hangzhou Day 8 (8/7)
Day 9 (8/8)
Day 10 (8/9)
Day 11 (8/10)
Day 12 (8/11)

Day 9 (8?8?,???)

We had a change of plans today. In the itinerary, we were supposed to go to the Great Wall and then the Bird’s Nest. However, today was the 2 nd year anniversary of the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games, so there was some event going on in the Bird’s Nest and we switched up the itinerary a bit. We got on the bus this morning to go to the Summer Palace. Along the way, Jacky told us (quite) a few facts about it.

Warning: The following paragraph contains factual information about the Summer Palace. Feel free to skip ahead for more of what we did, though you’ll learn lots if you keep reading =)
The very first part of the Summer Palace was built in 1153, although most of it was built in 1750 during the Qing Dynasty by Emperor Qianlong as a gift to his mother. However, in 1860, English and French armies invaded Beijing and burned it down.

Dowager Empress Cixi, also known as the Dragon Lady, restored the Palace in 1888. She was called the Dragon Lady because she gained as much power (if not more) as any other emperor would have because she ruled as regent over her young son, the emperor. Unfortunately, she wasn’t a very good ruler and lived a lavish lifestyle. In fact, some of the money she used to restore the Summer Palace was embezzled from the Chinese Navy. So whenever the Navy lost a
battle, which was a lot especially in the Sino-Japanese war, the people blamed it on the Dragon Lady. Again, the Summer Palace was destroyed by the eight allied Western powers in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion, and it was restored again under the Dragon Lady’s command in 1903.

When the 1911 revolution broke out and the Imperial family lost power, the palace was open to the public but was unkempt until 1924 when Henry Puyi was driven out of the Forbidden City. By that time, the government took possession of the Summer Palace and turned it into a park. All of the buildings that we saw today were from the 1903 restoration and the whole park itself covered 740 acres.

When we arrived at the Summer Palace, we did not go through the main gate, but instead through a smaller entrance. The scenery was fit for an emperor, and the buildings were very colorful and intricately decorated with flowers, plants, different Chinese characters, and other delicate designs. We walked through the Longevity Courtyard, which used to house the Dragon Lady’s favorite eunuch/hairdresser.

Yesterday Jacky talked about concubines, today was eunuchs. As he describes them, they are “half men.” They are not shameful because being a eunuch is a way of life. However it is not honorable unless one is desperate for food or money. Unfortunately, eunuchs were selfish and corrupt because they had no children or family to care for. So anyway, this favorite eunuch of the Dragon Lady lived right next to her quarters in the Summer Palace and he was so close to her that everyone had to go to him to see her, even the Emperor himself.

After we walked through this courtyard, we walked through the Long Corridor, which is the longest covered walkway in any Chinese garden. It is 795 yards long and has
over 14,000 traditional Chinese paintings on the beams showing pictures of
people, flowers, landscapes, and scenes from Classic literature. We passed by
vendors selling corn cobs, adults and children sitting on the sides, and crowds
of people. Our destination was near the Kunming Lake, a man-made lake, where we saw the marble boat. This boat was, yup you guessed it, made up entirely of
marble. It was used by the Dragon Lady and it was a place where she relaxed, enjoyed the view, and had tea. This was part of her luxurious lifestyle.

Next we waited in line at the docks for a boat to take us across the lake to an island. According to Chinese legend, there was supposedly an island in the middle of the ocean that was like paradise – where people had no cares and lived like
gods. So the island in the middle of the lake in the Summer Palace represented
this. The boatride was nice since the day was cooler again (29 degrees C). On
the island, we took pictures and headed towards a bridge that connected the
island to the main land. The bridge had 17 arches and was made of white stone
with little lion statuettes on each post. After we crossed the bridge we headed
toward the exit and to our restaurant which was just outside of the Summer

Lunch was a buffet with a mix of Chinese and Western food. Funnily enough, they had no chopsticks. Apparently they claimed that it is because a lot of foreign
people come here so they put out forks and knives, but still, a Chinese
restaurant that doesn’t have chopsticks? Weird.

After a very filling lunch, we got back on the bus to go to the zoo. You might think, “Who goes to China to visit the zoo??” but there, we saw the animal symbol of China, the panda bear! The zoo had 9 pandas there (9 is a lucky number), and they were all pretty much sleeping. Apparently, they consume 60 lb of bamboo everyday, so all they do is eat and sleep. Cute. There were so many people when we got into the panda exhibit and all of the pandas looked so hot that they were lazing around. There was really nothing exciting about their movements, but we did take pictures and buy some fun panda souvenirs.

Pandas at the zoo

The group walked out of the panda exhibit and relaxed near a bird pond for about 15 minutes before returning back to the bus that took us to the hotel. I am actually at the hotel now because we have some down time before dinner.

Until tomorrow! Zai jian!
by Emily Yang, NYU '14
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