hengde Summer Capital


November, 1999

Chinese flag

We left Beijing and the comfort of our studio apartment very early the morning of November 1 and went by train to Chengde, a five hour ride. Chengde is about 250 km northeast of Beijing and it was our northernmost point in this trip. Eventually we'll add a complete description of this and all our other train rides. A century and more ago, Chengde was the Camp David or Martha's Vineyard of its day; a country retreat where the government went for the summer — but where the summer lasted up to six months.

In the historic area there are seven large temples and a palace complex that rivals Versailles in size, although of completely different architecture and landscaping. Outside the compact town the hills are largely empty and one could hike for very long distances. We were enthralled by lots of things but unfortunately rushed through it in a day and a half; we now wish we had spent more days there at leisure.

Updated September  15, 2002