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