We next hiked around Tian An Men Square, the world's largest square. Our guide had helpful numbers to aid us in envisioning just how large the square is. It will hold 2 Million Chinese people. But only 1 million of Americans. Because we are big. He said it much funnier, however. Here is my artsy view of the gate to the city that is near / right on the square. There are light bulbs all over it, so I'm assuming the illuminate it at night. Or at least part of the night. The square also contains the tomb of Mau, who is on display there twice a day. His HUGE building was built in about 6 to 9 months. Workers labored around the clock to build it in such a speedy fashion. It's just really big. We were unable to go in because it happened to be under some renovation for a few days. I think Beijing Wally was quite disappointed. So we walked all the way around the square in the very cold wind! We saw monuments, lots of tourists, the flag, guards, Mau's portrait and the famous sayings on either side. You'll have to look those up on the internet. I didn't take good enough notes to remember what they said. And even then, we have to take his word for it because we surely wouldn't know what it said!
Mau's tomb is the large building behind the statue. There was a pair of statues in front. One of farmers/common people, one of soldiers. The rest of the square was surrounded by larger buildings, like a parliament-type one, a museum, a gate at either end. And the gates are large structures.
Strangely enough, surrounding the entire square by the streets (and no sidewalks next to the square), was a very short 3 1/2 foot tall metal fence. There were several security checkpoints around the square at entrances. We had to put our bags through an x-ray machine and walk through a gate (thank you, 9/11). But I did wonder what would prevent someone from just hopping the fence and coming on it? Not much--just a dinky little fence. I did ask Beijing Wally what they would do. He didn't have an answer. I didn't want to find out. Use the proper entrances, please.
Below are some Asian Tourists who thought we were funny-looking enough to have me hold their bare-bottomed baby (quite a story about those pants!) and have their pictures taken with us.
But right before (or maybe it was after--it's not quite clear in my notes) we hiked around the square, we stopped in at a Chinese Pharmacy. They specialize in herbal medicine, ying and yang, balance in all things. So, we had the opportunity to listen to their speil, meet with a Doctor, have our pulse listened to, our tongues looked at. Each Doctor had an English-speaking interpreter with them. But I had to interpret the interpreter for Berenice. Their accents are very thick. ha. They offered a brief massage after the sales pitch where they recommended what herbs we should be taking (and of course, BUYING from them for the rest of our lives!) for our ailments. For example I should have some ______ for my fatty liver. No thanks, I said. I think I'll eat less and exercise more to de-fat my liver. [Hey, I went for a one-mile walk with Mike this morning!]
So here is a picture of Berenice getting a massage from one of the younger assistants (not the doctor). We didn't hear that they were charging for them...but they did. But only $3.00. I thought it was worth it.
The bad part about this excursion to the square was that it was so BIG. It was way too far for Berenice to walk comfortably, but Wally didn't seem to think it would be difficult for her. It was. It was very cold and windy, too. AND, even though the square was flat enough, the crosswalks to GET to the square were under the street crossings with stairs down and back up. Then after our circuitous route around the square, we went out, under and up and out and UNDER ANOTHER street, besides! Berenice was about done in!!!