Tiananmen Square Visit
Walking to Tiananmen Square
A short walk
When we booked into the hotel we really didn't know how close it was to the Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square. We did get a pleasant surprise when we discovered the close proximity, and on our last morning J and I walked along a narrow street parallel to the Forbidden City in our search for Tiananmen Square.
The street was clean, and fairly quiet, as few shops were open and we took a leisurely stroll peeking into the Hutongs to see what we could see. Little shops, an art gallery or two, and lots of little cafes which would open later in the day. We were early.
We knew we had passed the boundary of the Forbidden City and came across a canal surrounded by beautiful gardens, so as it appeared to head in the direction of the square we followed it. It was beautiful.
Soon we came across a huge gateway, and we walked through to discover that we were right on the edge of the square that was most famous, or infamous, in Beijing. It was arund 10.45 am and already the crowds had gathered. Many were on their way to visit the Forbidden City through the Meridien Gate, but as we had already been there, we explored other parts.
As we arrived a column of soldiers marched out into the square, but we did not see where they went. I think they boarded buses and went out of the square. People were everywhere and cameras were snapping busily too.
We walked in front of the familiar building with the portrait of the late Chairman Mao still overlooking the square. The canal that we had walked along minutes earlier started sprouting water in amazing fountains. Cameras were busy again.
There was a roadway between the area near the Forbidden Palace and we had to go under the road to get to the square itself. We were surprised that we had to go through security - just like at an Aussie airport. This is familiar to us when we go to the train station or the big bus station, but it was unexpected to us.
Once successfuly through we joined the throngs in the huge square. Somehow I had imagined it to be bigger - it was big, but I had other expectations.
Again there were crowds. We walked around looking, and taking it all in. We did share a moment of contemplation as we recalled the events of years ago in this place.
There was a monument (and since we didn't have a tour guide with us we only had to guess) but we heard someone say it was a monument to the Young Pioneers of China, and students stood just like well drilled soldiers. It seems schools provide the students on a rotation basis to spend some time guarding the monument and the changing of the guard was with the precision that seemed like that of the Buckingham Palace Guards.
Clearly they had been practicing.
We spent some time taking it all in, before we bravely caught the subway to the city - looking for the centre of the city. We didn't find it - and eventually caught a taxi back to the hotel.