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:
Whenever I've thought of Tiananmen Square since 1989, this has always been the image that comes up in my mind:
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:
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:
And then behind us in this picture is called the Great Hall of the People - it's where China's congress meets: