Day 4: Summer Palace & Silk Factory

Summer Palace

Saturday saw the group visit the Summer Palace, one of the finest landmarks in Beijing. The site has long been a royal garden and was considerably enlarged and embellished when Dowager Cixi began rebuilding in 1888 using money that was supposedly reserved for the construction of a modern navy. The huge lake was dug by hand in 1888 and a boat made entirely of marble is evidence of how she squandered China’s treasury at the end of the 19th Century.

Situated in the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometres from central Beijing. Having the largest royal park and being well preserved, it was designated, in 1960 by the State Council, as a Key Cultural Relics Protection Site of China.

Entering through the New Palace Gate, we included a walk over the 17 Arch Bridge and enjoyed a short boat ride across the lake. The Summer Palace contains examples of the ancient arts, it also has graceful landscapes and magnificent constructions. The Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden and is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

They were very excited to walk across Janine T’s favourite bridge that she has been telling the group about in the China meetings.

Silk Factory

Later in the day was a visit to the Silk Factory and sales, where they saw the silk cocoon being spun and a quilt being made. Most people made some sort of a purchase.

China is known for its silk and is famous for silk production. The tour took them to a factory where they could see the whole life of a silkworm. What is so amazing about the silk making process is that the silkworm creates its cocoon out of a single silk thread that is continuous for approximately 1,098 metres. Among the processes, making cocoons to skeins is especially important. The workers operate machines that spin the silk filaments into skeins. One cocoon is attached to each spindle. This also make it better to understand why the filament of each cocoon must be broken.

We see all sorts of interesting things as we travel from place to place on our bus.  Once we saw a ginger cat travelling in a special see through back pack while it’s owner rode a motorcycle. It looked like it was enjoying the sights as much as we do.

Dinner & Reflection

Some students & staff went for a walk to the supermarket near the hotel after dinner. They found lots of interesting food and bought some to try.

Each evening after dinner they all have a meeting to share what they have learnt and what we have liked. Every student has shared amazing observations and experiences.