I circle the Square

This post covers things I saw on 5 October, 2010.

On the first day after the music festival, I figured that with it being the national holiday and all, Tiananmen Square (天安门广场) might be interesting. It was certainly crowded.

That's what I saw after coming out of the Tiananmen West subway station. The empty gap just on the other side of the fence is Chang'an Avenue (长安街), and beyond that is the Square filled with people. It was a warm, sunny day, and there were vendors everywhere hawking ice cream bars and little Chinese flags.

Turning around from that spot, you see this:

I wanted to get a closer picture of the big Mao painting, so I crossed the little bridge that takes you toward the Forbidden City (known to the Chinese as 故宫 - Gugong, or Palace Museum), and found that crowd control didn't allow me to return. I was swept along with the masses.

I've already seen the Forbidden City, and it was really crowded, so I looked for a way out that didn't involve buying a ticket. I found it with the entrance to Zhongshan (中山) Park, which for some reason I had never before visited.

Just inside this entrance (it's the East gate of the park) is the Southwest section of the Forbidden City's moat.

And it seems I wasn't the only one who ducked into the park to get a little break from the crowds outside.

I wandered around the park, my only plan that I wanted to exit to the south, where I could get back to Tiananmen Square and the subway, but I took my time. The park is named after 孙逸仙 (Dr Sun Yat-sen), who is generally known to Mainlanders as Zhongshan, and is regarded as the father of modern China.

Given the history of the founding of the People's Republic of China, their reverence of Zhongshan seems a little odd, what with him being a Nationalist rather than Communist, but he's been branded a "proto-socialist" Forerunner of the Revolution and escapes the negative image of his successor 蒋介石 (Chiang Kai-shek).

As I wandered around, I came across these:

It's a long rack of 特鐘 (teqing) stone gongs. They can be struck with a mallet and produce a ringing tone.

Another common sight in any of China's historical places is parents or grandparents taking pictures of the kids dressed in royal costumes, or at least headwear.

And no Chinese park is complete without some Strange Stones.

I thought this old couple was really adorable. They looked like country folk come to the big city to visit their families and see the festivities.

And of course there's another thing needed to complete an old Imperial park:

Gotta love the theme of the decoration on those things! Looks more like the Fourth of July than Chinese National Day.

I finally worked my way around to the South Gate and took the pedestrian tunnel to Tiananmen Square.

People mountain, people sea, as they say. (It's a Chinese expression meaning a lot of people: 人山人海. My teacher told me there are several stories about how the expression came about.)

Normally the entire square is flat paving, but a big fountain surrounded by flowers has been constructed, and there were quite a few other big floral displays here and there. They've also installed two massive video screens.

They show inspirational scenes of beautiful landscapes, historic places, and (of course) the Olympics. In between the two video screens there's a giant portrait...

...of Sun Yat-sen. In the background is 人民英雄纪念碑 (The Monument to the People's Heroes), and behind that is Mao's Mausoleum.

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