October 1st was to be a big day, a very big day in China, the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. This celebration would be on the same scale as the Olympic celebration. In Chinese culture, the number 60 holds an important significance because it represents a complete cycle. A 60th anniversary, or birthday is a milestone year to be celebrated. Although Meggan and I would have loved to be around during this time, we rarely make travel accommodations or tour reservations much more than a week prior. To avoid the nightmare of finding a place to sleep or affordable transportation, we decided to enter China in mid September to "beat the rush" and join a tour so we could enter Tibet.
When we arrived Beijing in mid September and were delighted to hear the next few days would be dress rehearsal for the celebration. We thought it would be great, we could get a sneak peek without the madness. We thought wrong. It turns out that all of central Beijing was on lock down from evening to sunrise.
Our hotel was about 3 blocks from Tiananmen square. We were told we could be near a window and maybe catch a glance out, but we were absolutely not to take photos. One of the hotel staff said to avoid "observation." Seeing how the government had the ability to shutdown a city with a population of 17 million, we would comply with the no photo thing, we may have shh, "observed" just a little. I found this amazing collection of photos from highly credentialed photographers, something we wish we were but are not. These photos were taken the same time we were in Beijing.
The night during the big rehearsal, there were thousands of people waiting for their time slots on the back street below our window. Each was toting their parade props: streamers, foam things, masks, costumes, things on sticks, brightly colored boards etc. Under one of our windows seemed to be a popular location for their 3:00 AM lunch break. Out the other window seemed to be the preferred pee break wall for the men. I don't think our "observing" had much potential to spill the beans of what to expect on October 1st.
Luckily, the city wasn't on lock down during the daytime hours. Even luckier, there was a half day window to visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Needless to say, the half day was a little busy at these sights, as we've called it before in other posts: Combat Tourism. The Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City were a grand sights. The square is large enough to hold 1 million people, which is probably close to what it would hold during the celebration in a few weeks. We did get to see the celebration on TV when we were in India. It was impressive, much like the Olympics with the absolute precision and control of thousands of participants. Speaking of control, the Chinese government literally played god the day before the celebration. There was a report on the news that China, in effort to clean
s the smog out of the air for better aesthetics, they made it rain.
- In 2008 we (Meggan and Beau) set out to see the world and start a business. Since then we have visited 48 countries and we’re just getting started. Travel and design go hand in hand. Whether we’re on the other side of the planet, or down the street we always find things to inspire us.