We would begin our first day of touring by visiting Tiananmen Square and the Imperial Palace, both located in the center of Beijing and adjacent to one another.
Being good little travelers we managed to show up at the bus at the appointed time, and we were soon on our way to Tiananmen Square. One of the advantages of our deciding to continue the trip following the September 11th tragedies was apparent as soon as we boarded the bus.

Carol, Alicia and Anne
relaxing in the back of the bus
Many people had canceled because of September 11th leaving only 25 in the group. That meant there was plenty of room on the bus for us to spead out and, with such a small group, it was easy to get near and hear the tour guides as they explained the history and significance of what we were seeing. As the bus headed toward our destination, our local Beijing guide, Jack, provided a running commentary on the history and background of the sight we were about to visit. He also provided much information on the history of China, lifestyle of the people, the government and much more.

Jack providing

McDonald's anyone?

Monument to China's Heroes

Anne resting

Arriving at Tiananmen Square we were met by a familiar McDonald's sign proving, indeed, that the world is getting much smaller. Tiananmen Square is an immense public square capable of holding a million people and surrounded by significant buildings on all sides. Enlarged in 1950 following Mao's takeover of the government it is best known today as the site of the student demonstrations of 1989 when many were killed as government troops moved in to regain control.

Museum on the perimeter

Statue to the People

Mao's mausoleum stands at one end of the square and
the Chinese line up to enter and view his body.
The first thing that catches your attention arriving at Tiananmen Square is the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen) with its large portrait of Chairman Mao overlooking the hugh square. It was here on the balcony that Mao proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

Tiananmen, Gate of Heavenly Peace

Alicia, John & Anne

Mao's portrait

Beginning with our visit to Tiananmen Square we were introduced to a few uniquely Chinese things. Among them ... the "Chinese weather" and the "dollar people" .

First, the weather. I'm sure you can see from the pictures on this page the skies were cloudy and relatively gloomy looking. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, this was the weather we experienced throughout China until we landed in Hong Kong. The Sun was something rarely seen, and when we did see the Sun it was for brief periods only. We had selected early October orginally for our tour, but those dates were already booked requiring us to leave a couple of weeks later. This was still the tail-end of the high season and the weather should have cooperated. In reality the weather was very tolerable for traveling. It wasn't hot and it really wasn't cold. The temperatures hovered around the 55 to 60 degree mark making it very comfortable. There was also very little rainfall the entire time we were in China. I remember only two times it rained. Once when we visited the Great Wall, what a dissappointment that was because of the rain, and once one evening on the cruise which didn't bother us. But the lack of Sun surely affected the quality of the pictures we could take.

Second, the dollar people. Wherever you go throughout China as a tourist you will encounter the "dollar people." These are the entrepraneurial soles who are trying to sell you their wares. Anything from postcards, to Mao's little red book, folding fans, books, you name it. They're referred to as the dollar people because just about anything can be purchased with an American dollar. In reality, usually several of the same item can be purchased with a single dollar. Bargaining with the seller is traditional, and if you show the slightest bit of interest they will follow you to kingdom come to make the sale. At first the bargaining was fun, but then it quickly became a hassle. Especially when you realized that you were bargaining over meer pennies. But, you know what they say don't you? When in Rome do as the Romans do! So we played the bargaining game continually. Sorry I have no pictures of these dollar people as I tired to show as little interest as possible to keep them from following me.

Leaving Tiananmen Square you pass directly under Mao's portrait and through Tiananmen, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, to a walkway leaading to China's Imperial Palace, known throughout the world as the Forbidden Palace. Continue to next page and enjoy more cloudy pictures.

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Welcome to our China 2001 Photo Album
Planning and Getting there: Grand Circle Tours and Northwest Airlines
Beijing : Arriving in Beijing | Tiananmen Square | The Imperial (Forbidden) Palace (1) | The Imperial Palace (2) | The Nine Sons of the Dragon
The Imperial Palace Garden | The Summer Palace | Summer Palace (2) | Summer Palace (3) | Summer Palace (4) | Local Beijing Market
Local Beijing Market (2) | Hutong | Bell Tower | Hutong Family, Dinner and the Opera | Cloisonné Factory | Ming Tombs | Ming Tombs (2)
Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling | Temple of Heaven
Shanghai : Arriving Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden | Yuyuan Garden (2) | The Temple of the Jade Buddha | The Bund | Day Excursion to Suzhou
Silk Process | The Administrator's Garden of Suzhou | Shanghai Museum of Art
Cruising the Yangtze River : Yangtze Cruise, Day 1 | Yangtze Cruise, Day 2 | The Xiling and Wu Gorge | The Lesser Three Gorges
The Lesser Three Gorges (2) | The Qutang Gorge | Wanxian | The Last Day of Cruising | Regal China Cruise Lines
Chongqing : Chongqing
Xi'an : Xi'an and Emperor Qin's Terracotta Warriors | Emperor's Qin's Terracotta Warriors (2) | Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi'an City Wall
Quilin : The Limestone Peaks of the Li River | The Limestone Peaks of the Li River (2) | Guilin and the Childrens Park | Children's Park (2) and Reed Flute Cave
The Hotels: Hotels, rail and air travel in China
Hong Kong : Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen Fishing Village | Hong Kong at Sunset | Hong Kong Bird & Flower Market
| New Territories Fishing Village | Hong Kong Farewell Dinner
Bangkok : Jim Thompson House and Golden Buddha | The Flower Market | The Food Vendors | Grand Palace | Mystical Figures | Brightly Painted Masks on Mystical Figures
Golden Mystical Figures | Buildings of the Grand Palace | Lunching at the Shangri La Hotel | Loy Nava Rice Barge Cruise | Ayutthaya, Ancient Capital of Siam
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and the Reclining Buddha | Bang Pa In, The Summer Palace |

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