Monday, October 18, 2010

China Day 3: Tiananmen Square

I woke up on day 3, completely rested and relax. It’s wonderful what a massage can do for you!!!  The down side of this though, was that both Gill and I was so relaxed that we took our sweet time getting ready, with the result that we had to rush yet another lovely breakfast. Thankfully, the restaurant had some nice big paper napkins on the tables so we grabbed some muffins and fruit and stuffed it in our bags! Geared with our comfy walking shoes – “the Jerry” warned us that there was lots of walking to be done today- we were off to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City!!!!!

Tiananmen Square leads to the entrance of The Forbidden City and is located in the center of Beijing. With its whopping size of 440 000 square meters, Tiananmen is the largest city square in the world and instantly recognizable by Mr. Mao’s friendly face smiling from the “Gate of Heavenly Peace”. Tiananmen Square also has great cultural significance, due to the fact that several important events in Chinese history happened there – the best known being the 1989 massacre, where thousands of protesters were killed after demanding political liberation, freedom of speech, political reform, less social control from the communist party and a democracy. Its unsure how many died and there is some discrepancies about what really happened that June, 4th day but its estimated that up to 3000 people – protesters and soldiers – died when military actions was taken to “clear the square”. Today it’s hard to believe that Tiananmen was witness to such a terrible bloodbath and with its hustle and bustle of people, vendors and photo crazy visitors Tiananmen is the picture perfect tourist spot. Well, so I thought until I got myself a stalker!!!! Like usual, we were harassed by several Chinese people who wanted to take a picture with us, so I just smiled and in the corner of my eye followed “the Jerry’s” yellow flag as it disappeared further and further into the crowd. One of my last fans, a gentleman in his late 20’s, was kind enough to give me and my two travel friends, a gift of used notebooks and (ironically) a little guide on “Subway safety”. I politely thanked him and then proceeded to follow Jerry’s flag but soon my one friend realized, as we entered the subway underground, that we were being followed by the same nice gentleman, now wearing a policeman hat and a microphone. I just walked a little faster and caught up with Jerry but the “micro-phoned mad(police)hatter” joined our group and in the middle of the circle took off his shirt and started unpacking his bag of discarded items (of which our gifts use to be part of). Soon the circle became larger and larger around him as other people joined to see what was going on – not that much was going on really: he was just shirtless, grinning at me where I was hiding behind Jerry, and unpacking his trash box treasures. With the microphone in hand, and now looking suspiciously a lot like a male stripper being shirtless with a police hat and all, I expected him to start dancing or singing – luckily he didn’t! Then the Chinese police came along and “cleared” him from the square! Poor guy – his 30 seconds of fame backfiring badly! (to be continued)

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