Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square, known to many people as the place of the massacre in 1989, was our first stop for the day. David, our Viking guide, warned us to stay very close, especially when crossing the street. He told us it would be very crowded and to try and stay in sight of his Viking Cruises flag.

We were all issued small receiver boxes. These worked wonderfully and without them we would have missed a good portion of David's commentary. They are about the size of a deck of cards with a neck rope and an ear piece for the left ear. The reception was usually good up to about 25 feet away which allowed us freedom to look around and to wander a bit, instead of just trying to concentrate on what David was saying.

The first thing we noticed was the line of hundreds of Chinese, zigzagging in an orderly manner around the square. They were lined up to get into the mausoleum that is Chairman Mao’s tomb. I had read about the tomb but had no idea how big the building really was. It looks more like a huge fancy villa than it does a tomb.

We wandered a bit around the Square, overwhelmed by the size of it and the number of Chinese. And then it happened….what David had warned us about. The Chinese tourists like to take pictures with us Western tourists. With sign language and waving of cameras and much laughing, one of the Chinese tourists would stand next to us with their arm around us while a friend took a picture. And then they’d trade places. It was a lot of fun.

No comments: