Taking a boat ride along the Imperial Canal to the Summer Palace, that’s something I’ve long intended to do. Today, I finally did it, together with nine friends I invited along.
we set off from a pier from the CCTV Tower. the stretch of the canal is called Kunyu as it connects the Kunmin Lake running through the Summer Palace and Yutai Lake down in the south. It was along this route that Empress Dowager (the Dragon Lady) travelled to the Summer Palace every year.
Kunyu Canal was dug during Qianglong period, Qin Dynasty, joining an already sophisticated network of water ways.
The Grand Canal, almost 2000 km long, running from Beijing all the way to Hangzhou down in Zhejiang province, was the longest canal or artificial waterway in the world. it used to be the main artery between the north and south, essential for the transporting grain, among other commodities.
Many sections of the canals dried up. In 1998, the Beijing government invested huge amount of funds to revive them. Canals were cleared up and broaden; pavements made and trees planted. The hour long ride to the Summer Palace was most pleasant. On either side, the weeping willows trailed their green arms in the water like the long sleeves of the legendary beauty Xishi.
The boat ride stopped near the south gate of the Summer Palace. We walked through a beautiful arched stone bridge and entered the park. The southern corner is much quieter. we enjoyed a picnic in a pavilion, which protected us from the drizzle of light rain.
Today is the Dragon Boat festival. A right day to take a boat ride.