Italian First Impressions- The Summer Palace
August 13, 2011
I spent my Sunday afternoon with my beloved English crew from my Internship program in the Summer Palace, in Beijing, China. Amazing. It is such an amazing construction. Unfortunately, the weather was not too pleasant for our visit though. The sticky cloak of humidity prevented us to fully enjoy the wonderful view that the last stage of the palace would potentially have allowed us to have. It was very nice, anyway and that sort of thing can and is a good excuse to go back some time.
It is meaningful, in my opinion, how the Summer Palace is both at the same time a symbol of power and disparity, to a certain extent in the same way that the Great Wall is. It is a flag, a magnificent show of late Chinese empires.
Upon entering the area, we saw the magnificence of its lake. My! To have only one person allowed to deserve such a wonderful place… this is the unflappable hypocrisy of human history. One man leads a multitude, pretending to rule for their interests. It is true now just as it was 2,000 years ago (and even beyond!), in China, as in Italy. Anyway if this human peculiarity leads to such magnificent result… who am I to blame a person for his/her decadence (it was occupied for a time by the Empress Dowager of course).
The internal lake with flowers…incredible! We started marching up the Hill the prominent hill in the palace. Other than the intense humidity and heat we suffered on the climb upwards, we had great time. Each stop along the way gave us a better view than before. Anytime we thought it was not possible to have one better, the next would exceed our expectations. I wonder how the old Chinese emperors must have felt having afternoon walks in this place… Maybe one day he would start sneering a frown and say: “Hmmm… not bad at all…but this balcony needs more flowers!” Hearing this, suddenly a couple of servants would jump out from some secret hiding place and immediately fix the problem. In 25 seconds flat. I have little doubt that something like this situation could be possible simply regarding the mansions that were built!
The best view of course was once we reached the top. This area was perfectly rebuilt, just as it had looked originally. A sublime view of the lake waited for us there. Upon reflection of these views I finally decided what I really wanted to do once I had graduated from school: be an Emperor! To have such a “vacation house”(!?!?!), a place of amusement. I would be a kind emperor of course and share it!
Anyway, as soon as we reached the top of the hill it suddenly started raining. This was bad. It was literally raining cats and dogs. I still have one of them in my apartment. I was also able to catch a dog before it hit the ground but unfortunately it did not get on well with the cat in my apartment, so I had to give it away to a friend.
As we were already soaked through from the sweaty climb, we faced the rain happily! We took several great pictures as well as we giddily enjoyed the rain as youthful boys jumping from puddle to puddle. And of course, we ended up being the main attraction of the palace! Despite the sculptural and architectural wonders that surrounded us, people were focusing on us as they started to take endless pictures of us. It was actually quite embarrassing, and really gave the impression of being an alien! An alien doing very odd things of course. I feel that this population should not be surprised to have three shirtless (our shirts didn’t last the difficult climb in the Beijing humidity) Europeans around, considering the amazing things their ancestors were able to accomplish with regards to the Summer Palace we were enjoying ourselves in. We also took pictures of the hill we climbed from the island facing it. Though it may not have been as breathtaking as the Great Wall, it was still certainly impressive. Finally, during a lucky break in the rain, we decided to leave and go back to our apartments.
Overall, it was a nice day in the outdoors. Even as everyone else was recovering, waiting for rain to stop, we had the chance to observe the show of a Chinese fight/dance as many tried to avoid the rain. There was no dry spot available however, not anymore, facing that stage. That was surely some folkloristic Chinese sight! Music, loud drums, ancient movements and gestures. This China that we were lucky enough to witness was definitely worth the hot summer shower!
-Marco Tommaso Rossini, CPG Marketing Intern