Beijing Tours, Day One (part 1): Tiananmen Square
Picture one: Mao's masoleum. The tiny thing in the center of the building was the count down to the olympics.
Picture two: Memorial to all those killed fighting for their country.
Picture three: The senate building
Picture four: Rita, our tour guide. We absolutely loved this young woman. At the end of the next day's tour, she gave us a tassle-momento to remember her. We have it hanging in Brooklyn's bedroom. It's said to bring us good luck. It's a shame I didn't think to ask for her address before we left Beijing. :( A year later I still kick myself for that.
We woke up early, had breakfast and were soon picked up by the tour group. Our first stop was Tiananmen Square.
I still can feel the sacredness I felt as we walked around Tiananmen Square. Everyone has heard about the massacre that occured there in the late 80s. My heart still swells with both pride for those standing up for democracy, and with grief over their unfortunate demise. Our tour guide never breathed a word about the massacre. It makes me wonder if it is because she does not know anything about it (surely not, being a tour guide. And yes, some people in Beijing and other Chinese cities do not know about this) or if she was forbidden to talk about it. Either way, that is sad.
It is said the square is the largest in the world and can hold one million people in it. This is where Chairman Mao gave his infamous speech standing at the gate of the Forbidden City while his supporters held up his red book of quotes. (This book is illegal to own in America, but I happen to know someone that bought it while in China. heh.) Chairman Mao's still lies in a masoleum (is that what it's called?) in Tiananmen Square. I wanted to view it, but the lines were very long.
We got to see the senate building, and if I recall, it was in session while we were there.
As we made our way out of Tiananmen Square a couple beggars approached us. These people had it SO much worse off than anything I have ever seen or could have imagined. One was accompanied but what appeared to be his brother. The poor young man looked like he had been burned quite severly and was missing the upper half of some of his fingers. It seemed like he may have been tortured. I went to give him money but the tour guide discouraged us. When she turned around, I quickly gave it to him. Just a few dollars is SO much money to them. How could I in good concious not do it?
People have asked us about the safety of being in China. Edward and I felt absolutely no threat while we were in either of the three cities we stayed at in China. When we were in Kunming, there was a day when Edward went out with Josh on a tour while I stayed at the hotel with Brooklyn. I didn't want to just stay in my room so I pushed Brooklyn in her stroller all around Kunming for a couple of hours by myself. I never felt that we were in danger. I've heard that there is a horrible punishment to those that bring harm to tourists, since China does not want to discourage people from visiting their country. We loved walking around and getting to converse with people there. Some loved getting to use their english with us. :)
Even though this was not as "glamorous" as other sites we saw during our tours, this was still one of my top favorite sites we visited because of the overwhelming humility I felt while we were there. So many sacrificed themselves in the name of freedom. I can only hope that one day their cause will come to fruition.