Archive for the ‘Beijing. Tian’amen Square. Mao Zedong’ Tag


I can’t describe the vastness of tian’anmen square.  It’s a little like the photos I couldn’t get of the wildness of the ocean back in 1955 when the SS Kungsholm went into the North Atlantic in a hurricane to rescue nine men off a sinking Greek freighter. I guess that’s why we go to see these places – the only way to get the real impact.

Even the header photo I have of people lined up to see the Mao Zadong Mausoleum is inadequate, but that’s because we were there during the long Chinese New Year’s celebration, so people were off doing their holiday thing. I did find a link to Mao’s story which includes, toward the end, a photo of the long lines. If you scan all the way down to it, you will get a sense of the vastness.Mao Zedong

Tian'anmen Square

The guides and other folks who talked to us about Mao were enthusiastic about all he had done for the country. Well, if you read the article referred to above, you’ll find that his supporters hold him in high regard for modernizing China, making it a world power, promoting the status of women, making health care and education available, providing universal housing, and raising life expectancy for the population. One guide explained that before Mao, the people really believed they didn’t have it so bad compared to the rest of the world where, they had been told, everyone lived in poverty, to the point of dying in the streets. They credited Mao with opening China up to the world. Those one would assume are the supporters who stand in that long line to see his mausoleum.

Then, of course, there’s the Mao with whom we in the West are more familiar, the Cummunist dictator who ran roughshod over human rights.

It was in Tien’anmen Square, I think, where people came up to Doug and me, wanting us to pose for a photo with their family members. I will say, they seemed very happy to see Americans. Young people especially seemed excited by our presence.  But then, you may get a different idea looking at the photo of me all wrapped up for the cold.

Mona in the cold

And, if you look to the lower right in the photo of Tien’amen Square above you’ll see a rear view photo of Doug with Cambodia hat.  Maybe they just wanted a picture with a couple of really weird looking Americans. Or maybe they thought we were celebrities there in disguise. Anyway, we did feel very welcomed.

This day, and especially the next, we became aware of the enthusiasm many of the young people had for learning English – American English. We met several who were hoping to be teachers of English. By the way, we also learned that when they first start school, the children are given American names. I guess Emily and Tia from Cambodia probably had Cambodian names that we’d have trouble with, and probably wouldn’t work so well for entrepreneurs.

And so on to The Forbidden City. I confess, I didn’t know until I was there that the forbiddance applied to the Emperor as well as to the common people outside the walls. They weren’t allowed in, and the emperor wasn’t allowed out.

We were told that the people approved of the portrayal of the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty in the film “The Last Emperor of China.” When we returned home, Doug and I made a point of seeing it. My conclusion – being an emperor was no great shakes, maybe especially before he was deposed.  But there is so much more. On the recommendation of one of the people in our tour group, I read “Empress Orchid.” Yes, that too was well worth the read.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City 3

I’m in no position to go into detail on the emperor, but I am providing a link in case you’re interested.

Our final stop that day was at the beautiful Tau Temple of Heaven. Mostly we just looked at it from outside, but it was well worth the look.

Tau Temple

OK. That’s it for today. For tomorrow’s entry you will have my permission to laugh.

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