10 November 2019

Beijing's Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City & Jingshan Park...

Taking my time, I knew that saving Beijing’s top governmental and historical sights would be worth my wait. Trusting China Highlights once again allowed me to keep things right on schedule, teamed with a knowledgeable guide that made it feel like a breeze within the madness of Tiananmen Square! With all the commotion it did seem rather hectic! Was Tiananmen sacred?

Meeting my tour guide Cactus at Qianmen subway station at the agreed time allowed me to begin my Tiananmen experience. The post Golden Week crowd levels were just as high that Saturday even though the holiday had finished. The mausoleum of Mao Zedong stood before me, I didn't fancy visiting that imposing part of Beijing's Tiananmen because I had done my bit in North Korea, that's enough leaders in state for me! The sheer magnitude of people that were busying around Beijing's most famous governmental point of interest had me feeling that their visit was a big deal! The National Museum of China stood before, I didn't feel the need to visit that museum to see the exhibits because it was quick trip. Some young people asked me for a photo together, I politely declined in Chinese. Tiananmen's immense feeling and craze made me feel like I was in the true capital of the country! Yes, that Beijing moment had arrived!

The whole of China had recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, the formation that consists of modern China that was established in 1949. The elaborate military parade caused quite a stir, closing businesses and even my school down before the festivities commenced in October 2019. My flight to Singapore was pushed forwards three hours because of the military airshow that forced the airport to close down during the morning and part of the afternoon. Standing amongst the crowds I wasn't the only person in my tour during that late morning period, a British family had joined so it was interesting to tell them the in's and out surrounding life in China as a working foreigner. Back to the square, I had never quite seen such a frenzy in one place before, people seemed like Tiananmen meant so much as if it was a sight of pilgrimage! I, myself stood in awe of the imposing buildings that Beijing is so famous for. Those guards were frozen!

Known as the 'Gate of Heavenly Peace', the commonly known 'rostrum' hosts the world famous portrait of Mao Zedong. I won't go into the life and times during Mao's era but having the chance to see that portrait solidified my time spent in Beijing. The motto of the 'republic' could be seen with all of its red and white glory, the less mentioned about its meaning the better. The sense of patriotism that could felt in the heavily polluted air that afternoon was amazing, people were living their best lives according to their 'China Dream!' I took the whole experience as I found it, standing there in that moment felt like I had achieved something special because this focal point held the same precedence Buckingham Palace does for those who identify as 'Royalists' in the United Kingdom. It stood as a true symbol of China. Having took me two years to get there, it had been certainly worth the wait! Yes, Beijing's true staple!

In essence, Tiananmen Square proved the buzz I was expecting it to have with the droves of Chinese tourists and overseas alike. Moreover, the devotion from the Chinese visitors stirred a certain question in my mind. A certain party known as the CCP still stands at the forefront of the vast Beijing governmental square with the hearts and minds of the visitors following the cause. I really found that part quite interesting and utterly bizarre in the same sense, there was a lot to comprehend and to take in that afternoon. In a sense Tiananmen Square and its famous rostrum possessed a rather domineering feel with the party commanding the attention and the presence of guards had everybody walking in the right direction, minding their behaviour at all times! After some research it was said that the portrait of Mao Zedong had been replaced before the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China was founded. Being part of a tour made things easier for the security was tight!

Passing through the 'Gate of Heavenly Peace' allowed us to enter the Forbidden City. Once home to the previous emperors throughout China's many dynasty's, this gargantuan palace housed the ever-changing Chinese imperial family until the fall of the Qing Dynasty. The maddening crowds grew ever more as myself and the small group tour approached the 'Gate of Supreme Harmony'. Upon entering the 'Gate of Supreme Harmony' the wide palace centre impressed me much! In my minds eye I imagined the closing scene during Disney's Mulan, if only a gaggle of crossdressers in imperial Chinese dress shuffled through before me, we can have our dreams! Capturing the photo on the left wasn't too much of a chore, the crowd flowed nicely so the photo didn't have an overloaded feel. Funnily enough it was another correct Beijing feeling felt that day! If truth be told I wanted to run away to take more photos, of course I did just that!

Learning a lot about the Forbidden City's history impressed me much, the common people that surrounded the closed city were in fact barred from visiting the palace completely. The changing emperors all shared one recurring passion to keep concubines, sounding like some line-up a gentleman's club the concubines would all line up ready to be picked out by the emperor. The race to produce an heir fell onto the wives and concubines of the many emperors who lived within the walls of the Forbidden City, nowadays in China families don't frown upon having girls born instead of boys. The interesting stories had me gripped, I wanted to know more! As we made our way through the main part of the Palace Museum, it was apparent that a lot of the design had been dictated by number sequences, those door-knob formations had me all confused. Even though the interior of the buildings were closed, the exterior told enough of as story. Perfectly, my Beijing day was falling into place!

Crossing the intersection from the Northern Gate allowed us to reach Beijing's Jingshan Park, entering without any hassle it was time climb to the very top. Fun fact, once the moats had been dug out that surrounded the Forbidden City, the soil was used to create the hill at the said Beijing park. Climbing to the top of Beijing's Jingshan Park should've given the picture postcard view over the Forbidden City but with the polluted skies creating a hazy mist I was served something completely different. I tried to look at the hazy view as if it had a sense of mystery, with a little editing I have come to terms with the photo captured to the right. The walk up was something else, leaving me breathless it wasn't just the smoggy air that had been short of breath during that afternoon of Beijing delights. Would I return to take a less hazy photo? No, it was the true way I was meant to see it! Not feeling bitter, it was time to finish things.

From those first crowds whilst I waited at Qianmen for Cactus, to the steep incline to the top of Jingshan Park the day had been a success! The feeling of Tiananmen Square gave me all the governmental realness that I had been longing to witness, that Beijing open square had got the power for sure! I was polite, opting out to that that street selfie! The strong fabric of a certain party had the crowds transfixed by a certain portrait. I was true to my calm, I didn't want to see museum exhibits nor see leaders in state because I just didn't feel that was meant for my Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City day. The pollution may have belted down on Beijing, suffocating the skies above the Forbidden City from the peak of Jingshan Park, in the end the world still turns. The afternoons itinerary was just enough and worth the price, I was impressed! Heading back to Shunyi, it had been like medicine to go back into the city after my Golden Week hiatus. Beijing's Tiananmen chapter is now closed.

Pollution Galore!

Joseph Harrison 

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