China 2010: Day 5: New Yuan Ming Palace and Shunde
A partial recreation of the Summer Palace in Beijing, New Yuan Ming Palace (Bao Mai palace) is actually surprisingly well done, and in many ways in better shape than the original. It's pretty cool to wander around what the Summer Palace was probably like at the height of its beauty.
Getting dragged to a silk factory/fish farm was far more interesting than the usual "shopping" or "factory" detours on these kinds of tours; we had a good look at both the silkworm life-cycle and the silk production process, plus the guide there actually did speak some English (or am I mis-remembering?). Seeing cocoons fed into the thread spinning machines was a taste of mass-production most of us just don't get.
Ended up in Shunde, at a museum dedicated to Bruce Lee and a garden to... I never did figure out what. It was pretty, though, and I think we'd been before 3 years ago... still nice though, with a fairly tall waterfall, some glasswork representing the seasons (different colors for each season that you can view the plants through in one part of the garden), and in a few more months, you'll have a fresh new high-rise in the background (doh!). More of the hard powdery cookies were for sale on the street nearby, although they weren't as good as the ones we found in Macau.
Hotel (was it in Shunde?) was right next to a huge indoor/outdoor mall, although it was pretty deserted. Very nice rooms, but aside from the mall the location was again way-the-hell-out-there so we couldn't wander too much. Parts of the mall were very nice, parts reeked of food (exhaust vents please anyone?), parts were just empty-- maybe a sign of the economic downturn?
We also switched out our assistant tour guide that morning for another (albeit full-fledged) guide who actually spoke English for the rest of the tour. I'm guessing the rest of the cousins were happy they could finally understand what the heck was going on! (I personally was ambivalent-- I'm used to going around clueless, lost, and/or confused while I'm here! Plus with a huge headache most of the time trying to translate Cantonese in my head with my practically non-existent Cantonese...)