I learned the hard way that The Summer Palace is meant to be visited during the summertime. Winter visits will be almost unbearable because all the beauty is outdoors.


Credit: Jabari Bell

Credit: Jabari Bell

The day I visited The Summer Palace was Beijing’s coldest day in the past ten years. The wind cut through my bones like butter. It made my arms flap and threw my head back. And my lungs? It was like someone shoved a fire extinguisher down my throat. I wasn’t climbing a mountain or trekking up The Great Wall but I was gasping for air just walking against the wind.

I was being such a big baby. Locals were fishing in the frozen water with bare hands. A grandpa was jogging in shorts and a T-shirt like it was a spring morning in Central Park. That shut me up for a few minutes, but then the wind picked up and I went back to crying like a baby.

The emperors of China preferred to spend the warmer days in the airy, lush gardens of the Summer Palace instead of being cooped up in the walls of The Forbidden City.

The architecture of The Summer Palace is a harmonious balance of placing boats, bridges, pavilions and palaces amongst the nature, mountains and lakes. On second thought, it might have been better to have visited on a summer day. Mother Nature might have been kinder to us.

Monica reflects on her travels by sharing her thoughts on A Cup of Moca. She writes about her journey as she experiences the destination to encourage others to marinate in the moment instead of just checking things off a bucket list.