China # 22 – Beijing’s Tiananmen Square – September 2014

October 5, 2018

B E I J I N G! Over twenty-one million people, plus or minus a few thousand tourists. We had completed our second goal of driving from the Atlantic to the Pacific, wheels on the ground, and now our first goal to follow the Silk Road and on to its final end in Beijing.

Formerly romanized as Peking, it was strategically located and developed to be the residence of the Emperor and the Imperial Capital. Beijing is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, parks, gardens, tombs, walls and gates. It has seven UNESCO WORLD Heritage Sites and a history stretching back 3 millennia.

TIANANMEN SQUARE

In “Beijing” do as the visitors do.

In “Beijing” do as the visitors do.

If you had a month you could not see all of this city, any more than you see all of Paris or Moscow in 30 days. We had one day, so we had to be selective. Short list: Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City, the old Hutong neighborhoods, and of course, to enjoy a famous Peking Hung Duck dinner. Oh yeah, a lunch at one of those questionable hole-in-the-wall cafés for a good bowl of spicy fresh noodles or rice.

We had been lucky to find a guarded parking lot somewhere inside one of the several ring roads, not too far from the city center and close to public transportation, which is surely the only way to get around in the chaotic traffic.

According to Green, it is especially the older peoples' dream to visit Beijing's Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City once in their lifetime.

According to Green, it is especially the older peoples’ dream to visit Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City once in their lifetime.

With an early start in light rain, which thankfully cleared much of the choking smog, we arrived at Tiananmen Square. Preparations were under way for the Chinese National Holiday on October 1, the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Celebrations are from October 1-7 and called “The Golden Week”. Thousands of people had already gathered for photo opps and sightseeing. Tiananmen Square’s massive slab of concrete, the size of 143 soccer fields, is capable of holding a million people.

There was no sign of protests nor were there any tanks, an image we may all be familiar with when on June 4th 1989, a young Chinese man, carrying his shopping bag, stood in front of a column of tanks in protest and was run over. During that demonstration by the People’s Pro-Democracy Liberation Army, Chinese troops and security police stormed through Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters, killing an estimated 180 to 10,454 people. (Wikipedia)

We wandered around, people watching, one our favorite pastimes, noting that we’re all being watched by dozens of cameras. We were used to this surveillance. It’s part of traveling in China. All in all impressive, but underwhelming. The walls of the Forbidden City loomed in the background accented by the portrait of Mao Zedong. See Beijing, Part 2 coming up.

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