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This is near Beijing - the Palaces of the Sun and Moon. They are mirror images of each other. The marble "poles" are actually astronomical degree measures.



Close to the Forbidden City is the Empress's Summer Palace. There is an artificial lake, gorgeous vistas, a marble paddle wheel boat, a covered walkway whose ceiling is decorated with beautiful paintings (as shown here). It is a popular spot for strolling and boating during the good weather. The Empress spent money building this park and palace that she was supposed to spend building up the Chinese Navy. Personally, I think she made the right decision.



This is a detail of the Summer Palace roof. The animals are guardian spirits. Originally they were gilt, but a lot of this has worn off. Altho at first glance, the palaces seem to be in good repair, it really is only superficial. Walk around the corner of a building, and you may well see unrestored, unpainted walls, timbers, etc.



The Summer Palace up on an artificial hill. The Chinese have a real "thing" about rocks. They submerge them in a lake and allow the wave action to carve them, then they transport them to their gardens (or at least they used to do this). It takes a while to learn to appreciate r-o-c-k-s that are supposed to be suggestive of the country, or certain landmarks, or certain land features. Toward the end of our trip, I think I finally "got" it.

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