Yesterday was the hottest day since I arrived in Beijing last week, and the first time that it’s been warm enough to take off my scarf. It was a complete contrast, and the Summer Palace (Yíhéyuán/颐和园) was a great place to spend a sunny day climbing the hills and stairs of the palace itself, and wandering around the gardens—which are, right now, resplendent with blossoming cherry trees.

Yiheyuan tower

I took the bus there, which was interesting. Beijingers can squeeze more people into a bus than you’d ever have thought possible! It’s perhaps not an experience for the more delicate traveller. (On the way back, I managed to get a seat all the way, so I can’t really complain.)

Incidentally, if you do go to the Summer Palace, avoid the Suzhou Village ‘attraction’. You pay RMB 10 (only €1, but still …) for the privilege of wandering along a riverbank of replica buildings full of shops selling overpriced tat. Not that that’s so much a problem as the fact that you can’t take a dozen steps without being accosted. ‘You look please?’ I’d rather not. There’s far nicer stuff to be seen for free.

Yiheyuan lake