"" Writer's Wanderings: China--Tiananmen Square

Monday, October 05, 2009

China--Tiananmen Square

Today is another “shiny” day and Maggie is beaming with pleasure to tell us. Our luggage must go with us on the bus today as we are boarding the ship in the afternoon. While we wait for the bus to load, I watch a hotel employee with a large feather duster clean the outside windowsills of the hotel. It amazes me that with so much attention to sweeping streets and dusting buildings, the sewage and water quality are such problems.

We leave the hotel early to head to Tiananmen Square. It is larger than I imagined. There is no way to show the size in a picture. Very little is said about the student uprising that was watched by the world as the tanks moved in. Maggie mentions matter-of-factly that 2000 students died here in 1989. Apparently there was also a student uprising in 1919 that was put down here too.

As we cross the street from where our bus parks and enter the square, we see to our extreme left thousands of people lined up next to Mao’s mausoleum. It is only opened a few hours a week for the people to pay homage to him.

To our extreme right, there is a building with one wall facing the square that is completely dedicated to Chairman Mao’s picture. With that picture in the background Maggie assembles us for a group photo as part of a souvenir book should we wish to purchase it later. It is worth the $14 for the group picture alone. We have all become good friends on Bus #2.

The one common thread we have found in all our traveling is children. They are the same the world over. I watch and smile as a three year old sits down and refuses to move no matter how his parents cajole. Somehow they all know how to become as limp as a wet noodle.

We walk around the square and take in the enormity of it while Chairman Mao smiles from his wall at one end. The last emperor died in 1996. Mao is still held in high esteem and much of what was not good is overlooked.

Things have progressed rapidly in the last 10 years. Fred, a fellow cruiser who was here ten years ago, says there was not so much traffic. Everyone rode bicycles and cars were rare. The country, now open to the outside world, is making all sorts of strides but the cost of progress is seen in the high levels of pollution. What a difficult balancing act it must be to industrialize and try to improve living standards all at the same time.

The doors on the government buildings are red with nine brass “knobs” in nine rows. Nine, Maggie tells us, is a “fortunate” number. I think it not so fortunate for those who died here.
Other China Posts:
The Forbidden City
The Great Wall
The Summer Palace
Wuhan to Beijing
Chinese Farmhouse
Three Gorges Dam
Three Gorges and Lesser Gorges
Fengdu—The Ghost City
Cruising the Yangtze
Chonging—The Yangtze River
The Big Goose Pagoda
Evening in Xian
Beijing to Xian
Timid Tourist in China-Travel Day
China-The Trip of a Lifetime

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