Celebrating China and the Mao-soleum!

Student standing Inside the Forbidden City
Inside the Forbidden City!

Now one last thing that made this Fall Break so special was that it was Golden Week. Golden Week is the anniversary of the founding the People’s Republic of China, which was officially founded on October 1st 1949. From the beginning of October, the country was celebrating the 70th anniversary of, well, the country. Beijing was filled with festivities including a national parade which was televised all over China.

If you weren’t an official and had an invitation, you couldn’t get anywhere near Tiananmen on Oct. 1st. The morning we left Shanghai, the national parade was being broadcasted in the living room of our hostel. We all gathered around to watch. People from the United States, Europe, South America, and China, all gathered to watch soldiers march in the streets, dancers perform in ornate traditional clothing, and Xi Jinping deliver a salute and order. It was a celebration of China, and we were all there to witness it.

70th Anniversary decor can be seen everywhere in Beijing. Here is a picture on Tsinghua's campus with my friend Michi from Germany!
70th Anniversary decor can be seen everywhere in Beijing. Here is a picture on Tsinghua’s campus with my friend Michi from Germany!

This weekend our program’s excursion included a trip to one of the most famous sites in all of China. We took a trip to see Mao! Not actual Mao, although you can see him for a short period in the morning if you wish. It’s dubbed the Mao-soleum, and people from all over the country come to visit and see Mao Zedong’s preserved body. What we really went to see was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden Palace!

Picture of Tiananmen Square
Chairman Mao!
Selfie with Chairman Mao's picture in Tiananmen
Selfie with Chairman Mao’s picture in Tiananmen

You’ll see many tourists at Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, as its a very popular tourist destination for Chinese nationals who don’t live in Beijing. My Chinese teachers said that Mao Zedong is especially special to the older generations from the countryside, and many come to see him and pay their respects. The Square was packed when we went, and looked quite festive!

Tiananmen Square for the 70th anniversary with students and many visitors.
Tiananmen Square for the 70th Anniversary
Sarah and I in Tiananmen posing with a large display of flowers behind us.
Sarah and I in Tiananmen

It decorated for the 70th anniversary, with flowers and red and gold decorations, lucky colors in Chinese culture.

After some photos and general wandering, we entered the Forbidden City which is right next to Tiananmen. Not only is the Forbidden City the backdrop to some of your favorite kung fu movies, but it is the former Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty. I can’t even imagine living there. The grounds are massive with multiple palaces and a huge garden. It’s quite amazing to be able to stroll around on ground that has been there for centuries. One of the most impressive things about visiting these famous sites, is that they’re in impeccable condition. China does a very nice job of protecting its sites, despite the hundreds of thousands visitors and tourists that come see them. We finished the day off with some tasty treats including this Chinese snack of sugared hawthorn berries, also known as 糖葫芦 (tanghulu).

Sarah and I touching the Doors in the Forbidden City for blessings.
Sarah and I touching the doors for blessings
Friends in the Forbidden City touching the knobs for good fortune
Friends in the Forbidden City touching the knobs for good fortune
Studet holding a Hawthorn berry snack
Hawthorn berry snack (tanghulu)

Mara