Posted by: travelrat | May 28, 2014

Arrival at Beijing

Tiananmen Square

Beijing: 5th/6th May 2014.

We arrived at Beijing airport early in the morning … VERY early in the morning, ‘our time’ … and were standing around in a largely disorganised group when, Linda, our National Escort arrived.

(More about this lady later; she really was outstanding, and really deserves a post to herself)

She quickly shepherded us on to a coach to take us to the hotel, and said that, although nothing was really planned for that day, she’d arranged lunch and dinner for us. There were, she said, two kinds of restaurant we’d use; the ‘traditional’ and the ‘tourist’ restaurant, and, where she could, she’d take us to a ‘traditional’ one.

Now, there are some people who say the Chinese food you get at the Happy Dragon or wherever at home is ‘nothing like what they eat in China’. For such people, I have only two words … the first is ‘bull’! Maybe there’s a little less meat and more vegetables, but they’re basically the same.

For our first visit the following morning, we went to the centre of Beijing to see the famous Tiananmen Square.

This is the largest city square in the world, and was laid out on the orders of Mao Zedong, whose mausoleum, containing his preserved remains, lies within the square. You can see him if you’re prepared to queue for hours, and pass through Security. We gave it a miss.

Both on the way here, and from the airport, we noted the frantic pace of the Beijing traffic. I gave them 10 out of 10 for skill, but 0 out of ten for road sense. I remembered, from years ago, the words of a Jordanian bus driver:

‘There are very few accidents here, because everyone expects the other guy to do something stupid’

Maybe that’s the case here?

While there are no cars on the square, the pace is still as frantic … even though the name translates as ‘The Gate of Heavenly Peace’. The gate from which the square takes is name, called, unsurprisingly, the Tiananmen Gate, stands on one side of the square, and contains a huge portrait of Chairman Mao. This is where a lot of groups like to have their group photo taken, before entering the Forbidden City.

Tiananmen Gate

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