Beijing: Summer Palace

Our guide Emmet insisted that we see the Summer Palace, even though we were all a little tired from our day of sightseeing. It is a beautiful royal park, set beside a scenic lake, and many people, locals included, visit this tranquil place to enjoy boating activities, or just to stroll around.

Emmet starts our tour, as all good guides should, with a map of the area, so that we could get our bearings, and see exactly where we were going (and not going). Since we didn’t have enough time to go around the entire lake, Emmet had to give us the abridged tour.

The lake is the centerpiece of the Summer Palace, and is encircled by a well-paved road. This is a beautiful walk for the visitors, and leads to the palace proper.

On the lake are pedal boats for rent, so that families can enjoy paddling out on the lake.

Adding to the beauty of the lake were the many lilies and lotuses that framed the shore.

For the ones who prefer something less strenuous than paddling, one can take this boat.

There were also Beijing’s version of “street performers” along the path. One of them demonstrated his skill in calligraphy by writing complicated chinese characters with his “water brush”.

Unfortunately, I don’t know what these characters mean, so my apologies if they’re inappropriate in any way. 🙂

At the palace proper, we could view the various rooms from the outside only.

Here are my folks peering into one of the bedrooms.

Undoubtedly one of the biggest attractions of the Summer Palace is the Long Gallery, a 728m long corridor decorated with paintings of historical events and beautiful places. Source

For more history and details about the Summer Palace, you can try this website.

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The Australian War Memorial Part 2: War Is A Terrible Thing

The Australian War Memorial is a museum showcasing the wars that Australians have fought in. Going through the museum, you are taken through a timeline of the many wars, from Gallipolli…..

…..to World War 1…..

A lifesized diorama, showing a WW1 soldier in anguish after a battle

The museum had many dioramas depicting specific events of WW1. It reminded me of our own Ayala Museum.

….to World War 2…..

The dreaded German swastika, which represented all the evil of WW2

Christmas was especially emotional as the soldiers prayed for the war to end so that they could be home for Christmas.

This jubilant banner celebrated the liberation of the Philippines

…to the Korean War….

….to the Vietnam War….

The Vietnam War was represented by a dramatic "reenactment" of a chopper landing in war-torn Vietnam. Deafening noise, a strong wind machine, and flashing lights made this war come alive in the museum.

…to the war in Iraq.

The uniform in the Iraq war.

They say that the current role of Australians is as of  “Peacekeepers”.

Another impressive exhibit was the one of war planes. The museum had several planes in a huge hall. On the walls they would show films of dog fights and documentaries regarding these planes.

I couldn’t help but leave the museum in a somber mood. Seeing the suffering of the people and the soldiers in every war just brought home the message that all wars are essentially the same: full of pain and suffering for all sides.

The Australian War Memorial Part 1: Red Poppies For The Brave

I was told that THE thing to see in Canberra was the Australian War Museum. Even more so than Parliament, which some Aussies told me was kind of boring. So I hopped in a cab the first thing after breakfast.

The cabbie was surprised that I only planned to stay there an hour. “You can spend the whole day there!” he says enthusiastically. Now I’m beginning to wonder about the fate of my afternoon.

The War Memorial is a museum documenting every war Australia fought in. It is aligned with Parliament, along the same main road.

View from the War Memorial

The museum has an outdoor courtyard (called the Commemorative Courtyard) with the Pool of Reflection and an Eternal Flame.

Along the walls are the names of the battles where Australians fought. I spotted the Philippines…..

Along the side of the courtyard, on the second floor, is the Roll of Honour, where the names of Australian service men who died in any war are engraved in stone.

People can place red poppies beside names.

I was wondering how they documented names from the earliest war….

Here’s the latest war. As you can see, sadly, there is no end year engraved.

At the Hall of Memory (which is on one end of the Commemorative Courtyard) is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during World War I.

Next post: more on the Australian War Memorial