02 August 2006

21 July 2006 - Mao's tomb

This morning it was bright, clear and windy! It was still hot, but the skies were beautiful and blue. We walked down to Tiananmen Square, and got in line to see Chairman Mao's body in the mausoleum. Now that wasn't as easy as it sounds, Tiananmen Square is actually quite large, as is Mao's mausoleum, and we had to walk all the way around the mausoleum to find the end of the line, which then snaked all the way back around the mausoleum, through the front, where we snaked around another little courtyard. It's here that you can buy roses to put in front of a statue of Mao that's in the entrance hall to the mausoleum (Mao-soleum?). Then we were ushered two-by-two past the man himself, lying in repose in a darkened room. He's underneath glass, a light shining upon his face.

Frankly, it looks like he's glowing.

Then we all shuffled past and were deposited...

...in a gift shop. Lenin and Marx would be mortified.

I'm not quite sure what to make of the experience. There were a lot of flowers placed reverently in front of the statue, but I couldn't quite gage the mood of the people. Were they there in reverence? Were they bored? Awed? It was a surreal experience.

I'm also not entirely convinced it was actually Mao. Can a body last 30 years? (He died in September 1976)

I do not have pictures, as they are not allowed. We weren't even allowed to bring our bags into the line, let alone the mausoleum. Here instead is a picture of the line, and of use outside the mausoleum. You can see how windy it is.

1 comment:

Sheila said...

...in a gift shop. Lenin and Marx would be mortified.

Ironic. Very, very ironic.