Friday, November 11, 2011

Five Minutes in Tiananmen Square

We got a fantastic night's sleep in our lovely, sewer-smell-free hotel rooms, and then we got up bright and early the next day for a very, very full day of touring.

First stop - Tiananmen Square. Our tour guide that day, a very fast-walking, loud-talking, short Chinese lady (Sadie would unabashedly put her hands over her ears when the lady was talking - she was pretty dang loud), talked to us a little bit about the history of Tiananmen Square while we were on the bus going there. She talked about how huge it is, how it's a great gathering place for the Communist Party's rallies, blah blah blah. She didn't say one word about the Tiananmen Square Protests/Massacre of 1989:

Yeah. Those are tanks. Firing into a crowd of unarmed, peaceful protestors. Those are bodies. You can see The Forbidden City in the background, so that is for sure Tiananmen Square. That's the Tiananmen Square I remember from newscasts back then.

Whenever I've thought of Tiananmen Square since 1989, this has always been the image that comes up in my mind:

That's a lone man, protesting by blocking those tanks in the street. I wasn't very old - only 12 - when this happened, but I very much remember that picture.

Considering that thousands of people died on June 4th of that year - The Chinese call it "The June 4th Incident" - an "incident" - it's a shame that they aren't mentioned when you're touring this historic place.

An American man we met the second day we were touring said that one of his favorite websites is blocked in China because there's a documentary on the website you can play about the Tiananmen Square Massacre. They don't want people to know about it or talk about it, so it's blocked. Neat.

Sorry; having just finished White Swans, I'm kind of fired up about hating Chinese Communism right now. :) I'll get off my soapbox and get on with the touring.

So we parked, and basically ran from the bus to the square - did I tell you that this lady walked FAST? - and then she said, or rather, yelled, "OKAY! YOU GET FIVE MINUTES TO TAKE PICTURE! THEN WE GO TO FORBIDDEN CITY!!!"

Five minutes? What the heck? So we just ran around and took as many as we could. I sure would have liked to spend more time there. Yikes.

Kay, so in this pic, you see a tall tower thingey with a squareish building behind it. That's Chairman Mao's Mausoleum. The portrait you see there a little to the right of the tall tower isn't Chairman Mao, though. That's Sun Yat-Sen - he's the dude that overthrew the Qing Dynasty and founded the Republic of China in 1912:

Can you see the group of people on the left just STARING at Ben?? Hahaha! We thought, since we were going to Beijing, which has so many foreigners, that we wouldn't get as much attention as we had gotten in Baoding. We were kind of looking forward to some apathy. But it was National Week that week, so there were a lot of people from outside of Beijing who had come into Beijing for their vacation, much like my family would, say, go to Washington, D.C. to tour. So we still were being followed/videotaped/touched nonstop by Chinese people from outside of Beijing. Which was unfortunate. The kids were troopers.

There was a dude from Ireland - he was born in India, but raised in Ireland, so he looks totally Indian, but then he has this cute little Irish brogue. Anyways, he was in our tour group, and he said at one point, "You arrrrrrrre being so kind. I think I would be punchin' everrrrrrrryone rrrrrrrrrrrrright now. The poor wee babe [he was referring to Gage] can't get any decent sleep because of everrrrrrrrrrrryone touchin' him." It's true. He would fall asleep in our little carrier, to be woken up with a start when someone squeezed his little chubby leg or rubbed his little cheeks. Poor thing.

Behind Ben and the kiddos is the Museum of the Revolution (don't even get me started on the revolution) and the Museum of Chinese History. Which we didn't get to see:

Can you see those beautiful flowers behind them? The entire city was totally decked out in flowers. It was gorgeous. I don't know if it always looks that pretty everywhere, or if it was just because it was National Week. Everywhere we went, billions of red salvia and yellow marigolds. Just gorgeous. It made me really want to put some salvia in my garden next summer.

So, Tiananmen Square is directly across the street from the Forbidden City. So you can see the entrance to the Forbidden City behind me and the kids here:

The street is wide and busy, though, so there is an underground tunnel thing you take to walk there. And I was so excited to see that street, because when I was taking my Pimsleur lessons to learn Mandarin, that was one of the names I had to learn - it's called Long Peace Street, or "Chung An Jia." So that was fun to me. I can say "Where is Long Peace Street Located??" - "Chung An Jia tsai nar?" The portrait on that entrance gate to the Forbidden City is Chairman Mao.

And then behind us in this picture is called the Great Hall of the People - it's where China's congress meets:

Too soon, our tour guide lady was screaming at us that it was time to go to the Forbidden City, so off we literally ran, down to the tunnel and across the street.


Lyndsay said...

Brad's friend has been to China a few times and said yeah, it's crazy that they do not want any talk about the Tiananmen massacre, they act like it never even happened. Heartbreaking...

Jenny said...

it's so frustrating to hear about the censorship and the controlling government there. we are so blessed to live where we do.

Emily Empey said...

My last comment on this was inappropriate! Sorry haha! I think its crazy they do not talk about the massacre!

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