We had another dim sum meal as we prepared for a visit to Tiananmen Square and the Imperial Palace. Carol told us that Mao’s body was frozen and kept somewhere under Tiananmen Square. Supposedly it is raised up daily for people to view. With talk of how it/he might wave at and greet visitors, all of us at table 1 were in stitches. Some of us were laughing so hard we were crying.
We piled back on the bus for a short ride to the Imperial Palace and Tiananmen Square. We went to the Square first. I was a bit underwhelmed. There wasn’t much to see other than a huge paved area surrounded by government buildings, one of which was the building where Mao announce the formation of The People’s Republic of China. The place where Mao’s tomb was also there, but he wasn’t “available” for viewing.
While we were in the Square the skies darkened and we were sure that we were going to get drenched. It turns out that we got a sandstorm instead. It was only a very small one, but I can understand how a big one would or could be devastating.
From there we walked under the “most important road in Beijing” … a five lane thoroughfare that runs the east-west width of Beijing. We were now in front of the Imperial Palace.
As are most important buildings in China, the Imperial Palace, also known as the Forbidden City, is built in the north facing south. We walked through courtyard upon courtyard with the buildings becoming functionally less formal and more familial the farther in you got. It really made me want to go home and watch “The Last Emperor” again.
Every time we stopped for a group information session we found ourselves being photographed either blatantly as a group …
or more secretly as the backdrop for a local’s selfie. I guess there are Chinese people who have not seen too many Westerners, so we were a bit of a novelty.
I loved the painting and patterns that were used to decorate the eaves of all the buildings. Each colour has a specific significance and therefore was to only be used in certain spots. For example, only nobility and powerful people could have yellow roofs.
I also loved the Imperial Garden… outcroppings of rocks, beautiful peonies in full flower, water features, and so much more. I wish we could have spent longer there.
As we walked back to the bus we were bombarded by street vendors plying their wares… books, postcards, coasters, paper hats, and face masks … you name it, they were selling it.
A long day already, there was still more to come!