My first port of call yesterday was Jingshan Park, which is only a short walk from my hostel. There is a large hill with several temple buildings on top, which overlook the North Gate of the huge Forbidden City below, was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. The hill was actually made from the earth removed to make the enormous moat around the Forbidden City.
Unfortunately the weather was cold and overcast, so the view was not as spectacular as I imagine it could be. I walked down to the gate of the Forbidden City, having to run the gauntlet of over-enthusiastic postcard sales people and potential guides, presumably unofficial.
Some of the signs here are very entertaining, the “Engrish” being a bit tricky to understand sometimes. At the entrance to the Forbidden City I was reminded: “Please be self-restraint and be a good tourist to mold a well-mannered imagination.” Huh???
I decided to miss out on the Forbidden City, as time was already getting on, and instead decided to mold my well-mannered imagination by walking around the outside, eventually arriving at the very impressive Tian’anmen Square, apparently the world’s largest city-centre public space.
There were a couple of the biggest TV displays I have ever seen celebrating 60 years of the People’s Republic of China, and people wandered the wind-blown area admiring the statues of the heroes of the revolution.
I was amazed to realise that it is now 20 years since the Tian’anmen Square massacre, when an estimated 400 to 800 protesters were killed, in what would seem to be a somewhat heavy-handed government response when the tanks rolled into the square on the 4th June 1989. More information here:
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Somewhat co-incidentally, China banned any internet access in May this year to sites such as Blogger, Facebook and YouTube, some suggest to prevent too much discussion of what happened 20 years ago.
This has made things very tricky for me, as I use Blogger for my blog, of course. I was mystified initially when I kept getting a blank page, but a quick Google search for “Blogger China” soon provided some answers. I tried a couple of the suggestions for how to work around the issue, but to no avail. Eventually I had to resort to plan B, sending my blog text to a friend in Australia who can post it for me. Ha, even the Chinese government can’t silence the 100 goals blog!
I now wonder if maybe that’s why I got so many questions when trying to get a visa for China, when I put “Travel Writer” in the occupation box. (Well, what else could I say my job is – I don’t really have one, do I?) They wanted to know a lot about what I was writing. The guy at the next window, a writer of financial reports was also having similar issues!
By late afternoon it was getting really cold, and I decided that I had done more than enough sight-seeing in grim conditions, and caught the subway home, buying a dinner of some very strange-looking sandwiches from the local bakery, and enjoyed a quiet evening back at the hostel.