My feet are killing me! It’s my fault since I wore a new pair of shoes I bought yesterday and we’ve been on our feet so much. There are so many Beijing tourist attractions! Donna warned me not to try to break my shoes in all at once, but I didn’t listen, even though she’s a shoe expert! Today we traveled to the Summer Palace – yes, the Summer Palace in China – one of Beijing’s best places to visit.

We went with with Ian, Lisa’s new amor from Australia. They met last night at a bar we went to after the opera. We were in the middle of ordering our second beer and snacks when he came up to our table and asked her to dance. He sounds like Crocodile Dundee and looks like David Beckham, so she’s one happy girl!  They danced and talked and now they’re both love-struck. We’re trying to give them as much space as possible.

Beijing Tourist Attractions: The Summer Palace

To tell you the truth, I like the Summer Palace even better than the Forbidden City, (also in Beijing) which we saw the first day. Granted, I was still dealing with the time change, but I think it’s because the Garden of Peace and Harmony (that’s its real name) is truly beautiful and who doesn’t need more peace and harmony?

Over the years Ian has taken various friends and family around the Summer Palace, so now he’s like a professional tour guide. He told us about its history (it began way back in the 1100s!), while taking us to all the highlights of one of the great Asian gardens!

Chinese Gardens

What I noticed right away is the gardens and landscape are very different from the ones we saw before. Obviously, they’re very Chinese,with particular placement of the rocks, trees, and pavilions around the man-made lake. I think that’s all due the concept of Feng Shui, which I don’t understand but know is important here.

We also saw a huge marble boat the last imperial empress built with funds embezzled from the navy. (Proving that no matter where they’re from, politicians will use the people’s money for pork barrel projects.)

Garden Decor Ideas

Visiting all of the different gardens in various cities has given me some great ideas for what I can do at home. Landscaping ideas? Miguel probably doesn’t want to dig a lake in our backyard—ha ha—but I am going to put in a rock garden on one side of our deck and hang some new Chinese lanterns I bought.

I’ve also found some small accessories which are going to look amazing on our patio. In fact, with all my new global patio decor, our backyard is going to be the envy of  everyone except Lisa, Donna, and Kelly, who have plenty of their own stuff. Donna may even have to add an extra room to hold everything she’s shipped home so far!

Beijing Tourist Attractions: Shopping!

Speaking of shopping, the best places to visit was a massive part of Beijing called the Xidan shopping district. We found it after being really disappointed by the Pearl Market, where the shop keepers were way too aggressive. We’re all fairly sophisticated hagglers now, if we do say so ourselves, and I probably could have bought a nice necklace, but I don’t like being grabbed by sales people!

So we went on the internet and headed off to Xidan, which isn’t just one big mall. It’s really multi-mega malls where you can shop for anything, including the cute new shoes that gave me blisters! Just to give you an idea, just ONE of the malls, Joy City, has 13 stories and is about 330,000 square feet! It’s got all the big names like Zara and H&M, and places I’d never heard about, like a store called Fengguo Box.

Now this is a place we need in the U.S.– it’s etsy.com in a “real” store. Local artists rent out big wire-framed boxes to show off what they make.

Lisa bought two bracelets, a small ceramic statue for her backyard, and four shirts, Kelly bought four small stuffed animals for her kids and a jacket for Kevin, and Donna finally found a hot pink wallet– she was probably making up for the one she didn’t buy in Paris!

The next great thing that happened was when we went to Zhongyou Department Store looking for a bathroom and we accidentally found a very chic hair salon. At first I thought we had walked into some kind of club because of all the big couches and sleek accessories, but then we saw people getting their hair done.

When we saw how cheap it was, Donna and I decided to get our hair done too. Having my hair washed, cut, and styled after all the heat, dirt, and humidity of the city was sheer bliss and my hair looks so much better!

Next: Donna’s Final Dinner in Beijing