The Great Hall of the People, the Chinese Congress

Beijing Travel Report Great Hall of the People

Where the Chinese "Congress" meets once a year

On the west side of Tiananmen Square, just across the boulevard, is a massive building called the Great Hall of the People.  It came about as part of the Ten Great Buildings project to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

Built from 1958 to 1959, the huge building’s purpose was to Continue reading

The Monument to the People’s Heroes: Struggle Memorialized

Beijing Travel Report Tiananmen Monument to the Heroes of the People

The inspiring monument to the heroes of the people

This is a very interesting monument, covering not just the heroes of the communist struggles in China, but all 19th and 20th century resistance to outside influence and Imperial repression.

That is a lot to commemorate.

The monument is patterned like an Egyptian obelisk, except thicker.  Some 10 stories high, it is centered between the previous location of the Gate of China and the Chinese flagpole on the north end of Tiananmen Square.  Mao’s Mausoleum now sits on that site of the previous gate.  The monument was started in 1953, and was completed for the Tenth Anniversary of the Peoples Republic of China.

There is plenty to see at the base Continue reading

Mausoleum of Mao: The Monument to the Chairman

Beijing Travel Report Mao Mausoleum from South

Looking at Mao's Mausoleum from the Qianmen Tower

No, I am not talking about Frank Sinatra here.  THAT chairman is buried in the Palm Springs.

Chairman Mao (full name of Mao Zedong) was the spiritual head of the Communist movement.  It was he that declared the People’s Republic of China in Tiananmen Square in 1949, and he that went on to lead the nation through the Cultural Revolution in the late 1960’s. Continue reading

Seeing Tiananmen Square, the “Rectangle of Change”

Beijing Travel Report Tiananmen Monument to the Heroes of the People

At the very center of Tiananmen Square - the inspiring monument to the heroes of the people

Tiananmen Square is one of the top sights that everyone sees in Beijing.  And it is a BIG sight to see.  At 109 acres, the square is the third largest public square in the world.  After its last expansion, at the death of Chairman Mao, it became large enough to hold 600,000 people. That is BIG IMMENSE SUPER-DUPER KING KONG SIZED

This large open square, with massive buildings around the edges and monuments in it, is the epicenter of governmental change in China.  I cannot write a post long enough to cover all the history of Tiananmen Square and its pivotal points in Chinese history.

Rectangle?  Isn’t it a “Square”?

If you are wondering why I said “rectangle”, here is the reason.  Technically, there is today Continue reading

On the Thorny Issue of Beijing Air Quality…

Beijing Travel Report Beijing Smog 2

See the buildings disappearing into the mist.... I mean smog...

Maybe I should have named this “A Little Smog Never Hurt Anyone”.  Na, I can’t quite make that statement.  I am not a pollution specialist nor a doctor.

Given that this is a travel blog to encourage you to get out and kick Beijing’s “tires”, I have been thinking about the best way to approach  Beijing’s smog problem.  It is a dilemma for me; because I do not want to discourage you from going to this historical city.

It would be a shame if this is the reason you did not go.  Skipping Beijing because of a dirty air problem would be equivalent to not picking up a dirty piece of gold.  The history and culture are not to be missed.  Still, it is a public relations issue for China, no doubt.  It is also a potential health issue for those with respiratory and heart problems. Continue reading

What to Know When You Have to Go, in Beijing (Toilets)

Beijing Travel Report Squat Toilet at Restaurant

Squat Toilet w/ basket at restaurant. Look at those foot treads on either side of the "bowl"! Don't want to slip in!

I will warn you.  This will not be pleasant for some of you to read.  This is not about the toilet that you have at home.  When visiting Beijing, prepare to squat.

This will also be more important to women, as most restrooms will have standalone urinals, or urinal troughs.   Still, both sexes may find the need to do the #2 business when out and about.  Some of you will not care what a toilet looks like; any adventure is a great adventure to you.  My hat is off to you.  When it comes to toilets, I prefer less adventure.

In the States, and most European countries, and Australia (bless them), Continue reading

The Zero Point of China

Bejing Travel Report China Zero Point

The Zero Point of China, at Qianmen Gate in Beijing

Right outside the south side of Qianmen gate, in Beijing, is a marker called the Zero Point of China.  Most tourist will not even see it.  They may accidently walk by it, and think it is pretty, but they have no idea of it true value.

Zero Point.  That is an odd name for a marker.  It is fairly new, but the bronze marker is steeped in Chinese symbolism and national meaning.  Find out more here about Continue reading

Visiting Beijing’s Qianmen Gatehouse and Its Archery Tower

Beijing Travel Report Looking Southwest at the Qianmen Gate and Archery Tower

Looking southwest at the archery tower (left) and the Qianmen Gatehouse (right)

The Zhengyangmen gate (today known as “Qianmen” gatehouse) and it’s archery tower are all that remains of the old Tartar wall gates that surrounded Beijing.  UPDATE: Actually, that is not completely true.  There are a couple of archery towers left elsewhere, and one of the other gates was rebuilt in 2007.  This is, however, the only original gate, Continue reading

That’s a Little Small: Converting US and Chinese Clothing Sizes

Beijing Travel Report Wall Shirt Size Comparision - Size Labels

Lower Chinese 4XL vs Upper American 2XL - Chinese is definitely smaller shirt

It would be great to buy clothing in Beijing that properly fits.  Chinese clothing sizes are not the same as American clothing sizes, though.

I have assembled information from the web, and I write about my personal experience with clothing that I purchased in China.

First, the research: Continue reading