There are 9 milion bicycles in Beijing (according to Katie Melua anyways)
Beijing Travel Blog› entry 14 of 39 › view all entries
So, home of the Olympics 2008, Beijing!
We were awoken at 6am by one of the train attendants as our train arrived in Beijing at 7am. We gathered our bags and emerged bleary eyed and yawning, heading for the metro system as on the map it showed a stop close to our hostel.
Our first port of call was to work out where we were in relation to the local area so went for a walk. It turns out we actually walked past our hutong trying to find it as the name of the street was spelt differently (and broken up into four words instead of two!). We were pretty close to Tian'amen Sq so went down to check it out. It was a blazing hot day (over 100 again) but the Sq was pretty busy, with crowds milling about taking pictures. At various points around the Sq, and at each subway entrance there are guards. These guards are a mixture of military and police who search your bags going into and out of the Sq. Located in the middle of the Sq is a mausoleum, now this has very mixed reactions from people.
China is a funny place, we have been several places here now and we have seen multiple statues/pictures/etc of Chairman Mao.
We visited the weekend market as we wanted to see if there were any bargains to be had. We walked round for a while, gazing at stall after stall of jade carvings, bracelets, fans, kimonos (I thought they were Japanese?!?), bronze statues, and a host of other weird and random items before trying our bartering skills, getting a nice chopstick set for well under the starting price. We stayed at the market for a few hours but eventually had to admit defeat as it was way too hot so got a taxi back to the hostel.
So we finally got round to the spectacle. A mummified former (evil) dictator!! Dont get to do that everyday! We headed over to Tian'amen Sq and joined the throngs of people queuing up. Its free admission but you are not allowed to take your bag in or your camera (guess they dont want videos of Mao's face on Youtube), they will charge you twice for storing them if you have a camera in your bag! We had to go through a security check before being allowed in the grounds and once there we found a trailer selling flowers. Almost half the people in the queue were actually buying some(!) Just inside the foyer of the mausoleum was a huge statue of Mao, and the biggest offering of flowers I've every seen (after Princess Di's of course). Row upon row of flowers were lined up, with more being added the whole time. The thing I found stupid (apart from the obvious) was that the distance between buying the flowers and laying them down was less than fifty yards, you just knew that those flowers were going to be resold several times that day. Once we had passed the foyer we followed the cordon round into the centre of the buiding, where a floor to ceiling glass cabinet held the glass windowed coffin of Chairman Mao. His body was draped in a Chinese flag *rolls eyes* and his face resembled a b movie special effect. It has long been rumoured that a wax replica was made for display as experts were unsure how well the preserving process would be and since then no one knows for sure if they are seeing the really body or the replica.