A proper visit to Tian'anmen

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Flag of China  ,
Saturday, December 11, 2010

We had planned to depart from the dorms by 8AM to queue up in line for Mao's Mausoleum. However, this was not the case, as we had plenty of drinks the night before at La Bamba and at dorm 17. We ended up arriving at Tian'anmen by 9:30AM after our long subway ride which required two transfers.

We had reached Tian'anmen West station and arise from the underground. Present in front of us was the National Performing Arts Center and the Great Hall of the People. We walked along Chang'an Jie until we were in front of Tian'anmen Gate with Mao's portrait. We took some shots in front of the famous landmark and went across the street to the even more famous Tian'anmen Square.

In order to reach the square, we were required to walk underground and through security checkpoints complete with machines to scan your bags and an attendant with a wand. Surprisingly however, I was treated to a much more vigorous search while on my way to Xi'an. While going to Xi'an, I received the full pat down and had to explain why I was carrying so many western cough drops.

Nevertheless, we entered the square with the main goal of visit Mao's Mausoleum which was located in the southern portion of the square. While walking in that direction, we encountered soldiers in march, undercover security agents, and street peddlers selling their hats, gloves, and mittens. The temperature was hovering below freezing, and I was quite worried about my friends as I had suggested we leave the campus early in order to get in line and view Mao. We started walking towards the southwest direction and once we had passed the Monument to the People's Hero did we realize we had gone in the wrong direction to enter Mao's Mausoleum. We quickly scurried back onto the other side of the square as it had been cornered off with police lines.

We were about to enter Mao's Mausoleum until we were stopped by undercover agents requesting us to not to carry in any bags or cameras. To solve this issue, we went in groups of two and entered the mausoleum. I had been part of the first group and got in line to see his body lining in state. It looked unreal,possibly because of the lighting which made his face abnormally yellow. His body was covered with the old Communist flag for the country he transformed after much internal struggles.

After a quick exit, we quickly decided to head over to Qianman's strategically located Starbucks and warm ourselves up. We then spend lunchtime in the Qianmen region with people hawking at us and encouraging us to try their restaurant over their competitors. Great day overall, but the temperatures on Saturday really did a number on our group. I am hoping next week will be warming for some sightseeing.
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