Tuesday, August 18, 2009

July 23, Tiananmen Square & Forbidden City

The first morning in Beijing we got up early and headed out for Tian An Men Square via, and for the last time, the subway. When we got there, it wasn't too hot, as it had rained that morning and was still cloudy. It would rain later, so it stayed cloudy, but that did make our outing pleasantly cool. We took some pictures in the square.

First Arrived

Facing South

Facing North

Always LOTS of People Everywhere

As you can tell from some of these pictures, there were always lots of people here in the square... which makes this picture Jean took when she was a little girl all the more confusing. There is literally no one else in the square (only a few across the street). I asked her about this, and she said she doesn't know why there was no one, perhaps it was very early in the morning, and perhaps it had just rained. Also, not nearly as many Chinese took touristy trips 16 years ago as they do today, as the Chinese people have more money today than in the past.

Jean, age 8, Tian An Men Square

Later, we decided to get in line to see Chairman Mao's body. First we went to a building across the street to put our stuff in the locker. I knew no pictures were allowed, but I didn't know cameras weren't either, so I didnt put my camera away in the storage place. In retrospect it kind of makes sense, though they don't disallow cell phones, but you do get in trouble if you try to take a picture with one. We waited in line for about an hour until we got to the entrance and the security checkpoint. Since I had my camera on me they denied me entry. What I should've done is stopped taken a deep breath and told my family, ok you guys go through, I'll see you at the exit. Instead I wasnt thinking and I just exited. After I realized what I should've done, I hoped they still would go through, so I made my way to meet them at the exit.

20 minutes later, however, they still had not shown. I decided to wait 5 more minutes, and then if they were still a no show, I'd go to our pre-arranged "get separated" location. But just at that time, I got a phone call. Uncle Jack had borrowed one of the workers' cell phones and called me. They had been waiting at the entrance for me for the last 20 minutes. He asked if I was just going to wait for them at the exit, I said yes, and they went through, and after regrouping I apologized for making them wait there in the first place without giving them notice.

It was all good, and we then went to go eat lunch. We just walked a short way away from Tian An Men square and saw a Chinese Fast Food place. These were NOT the kind of Chinese dishes to show off Chinese cuisine, but we needed to eat, and we didn't really know where anything else was. There could've been a great place right around the corner, or just as easily 10 blocks away.

After that we walked back toward the forbidden city, but made a pit stop along the way. Katy and Uncle Jack needed to use the public facilities while we waited outside.
Uncle Jack returned first, followed shortly by Katy, who shortly began with a disgusting tirade over the state of the bathroom inside and the shortly thereafter labelled "squatty potties."

Afterward we crossed the street toward the Forbidden City. Before we entered, Beth asked me, "If it's a forbidden city, why are they letting us inside?"

Out in Front

Courtyard Inside

Lion Statue Crushing a Baby Lion
(at least that's what I say it is, but when you read
"crushing" you must imagine Borat saying it
and doing the crushing motion with his hand)

We finished the afternoon with an educational (we rented the audio tour device) stroll through the city/palace, shortly after which it began to rain. Luckily we snagged a cab back to our hotel minutes before the rain came down really hard. The driver was different than most other cab drivers I have met in China in that I could more easily understand what he was saying. His Chinese pronunciation was fairly standard, which unfortunately for my comprehension, is something that is a bit rare among taxi drivers.


  1. u may be understanding Chinese even more than you think. Did u explain to Beth that actually it still "is forbidden" but they have become so capitalisitic that they they decided they will make an exception....(if so, heeere's your sign!)
    Loved Jean's childhood picture!

  2. Wiki has a great article about the Forbidden City, or Place Musuem. It is called the Forbidden City becuase in the days of the Emperors, only he, his fmaily, servants, and guards could enter or be in palace (city). Visiting foriegn dignitaries visiting the emperor were also allowed in. It was opened as a musuem in 1933. There was a Starbucks inside from 2000-2007, but due to public objections, it was removed.

    I have never visited Mao's tomb. My wife has never had the desire to do so, and mine has not been strong enough to warrant it. Maybe the next time I visit China I will go.

    Awesome pictures, making me miss China. Looking foward to hear more about your trip.