Seester in China | Entry 3: Tienanmen Square
It's a riot!
Tiananmen Square

Beijing: The Hong Kong Countdown clock at Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square was awfully calm despite the fact that our visit nearly coincided with the anniversary of the student protests ("the incident" as the government calls it). I guess a state of semi-martial law can really spoil a party. On the eastern side of the square a gigantic digital board hangs in front of The People's Congress, counting down the seconds until Hong Kong reverts to China. I imagine the numbers are getting dangerously low by now.*

Beijing: Amie picks Chairman Mao's nose

On the northern side is Tiananmen Gate, front door to the Forbidden City and the place from which Chairman Mao announced the creation of the People's Republic. An enormous portrait of the Chairman hangs from the gate, so I stopped to pick the Chairman's nose. Later, we struck up a rousing chorus of the Chairman's unofficial theme song. Because any given syllable (such as "mao") can have multiple meanings depending on how it is pronounced, "mao" can mean "cat" in chinese. However, the Chairman's "mao" means "body hair", specifically not the hair on top of your head. Body hair.

Hey, "Chairman Body Hair" is much funnier.

The original price for entering the city without a Royal Invite used to be instant death. We gained entrance merely by paying the horrifically inflated "foreigner price"**. China practices the typical tourism philosophy of "charge the foreigners more", something we hoped to avoid as ethnic Chinese. HA. We might as well have had "WAIGUOREN" tattooed on our foreheads, so often were we pegged as foreigners (could it have been the Tazmanian Devil baseball cap?) We paid the higher ticket prices (at least 3X, but usually more like 12X or 15X). A lesser known (but equally true) fact is that you will be charged a fee at any entrance where a table can be set up with at least three gatekeepers.

* Remember, this is in 1996.

**Of course, when you're talking about tickets that start out at $0.70 apiece, you realize it comes down to the principle of the thing.

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