Monday, June 25, 2007

Tienanmen Square

I am relieved to arrive in Tienanmen Square and to get away from most of the peddlers. However, I barely have a time to look around before a young girl approaches me. Through a series of gestures, I gather she wants her picture taken with me. I figure it must be because of my blonde hair. I acquiesce, after all, what harm could it do?

I hardly have a chance to take two more steps before I am approached yet again, this time by two university students. Initially, I mistakenly believe they simply want to try out their English. It soon, however, becomes evident that they have ulterior motives. You see, they are art students from Xian, and no surprise, there is an exhibit just around the corner. I am led blindly like a sheep to slaughter. There are NO exhibits simply to view beautiful things in China. Everything, I soon learn, is a capitalistic opportunity. Everything, of course, is for sale, and, of course, prices must all be negotiated. Some of the art work is done by, “very famous Chinese art masters.” I do, of course, wonder just how “famous” these “art masters” could be in a population of a billion plus, and if “very famous art masters” would actually be selling their prized masterpieces in a hot crowded classroom of first year art students. I politely listen and look around until I feel I can inconspicuously make my get away. Hastily I slip out of the room.

I find my way back into the square. I immediately look around wanting to take as much in before my next encounter. A surge of emotions washes over me as I realize just how large the largest square in the world actually is (880 metres from North to South and 500 metres from East to West, large enough to accommodate half a million people). The place is packed and I can almost envisage tanks storming the crowd in the midst of the square. I try to imagine what it was like: the chaos, students, tanks, barricades, banners waving. I can almost see the blood stains on the pavement and feel the crushed hopes of a nation.

35 comments:

Carla said...

What a beautiful blog....are you travelling alone, for fun, education?

MyUtopia said...

Wow! What a powerful post!

Sirdar said...

Must have been quite the experiance of emotions.

I want to go to China one day and visit the square.

Mark said...

Very powerful thoughts about a very profound place in the history or humanity.

JBelle said...

ah, Carla. sigh. Never have wanted to go there until now.

Carla said...

Carla, great name! You had me confused when I first saw your comment...I was thinking, "what? I didn't just comment!" Thanks for stopping by. Sometimes I travel alone, sometimes with others. It's always fun and always educational.

My Utopia, I'm glad you found it so. Thanks for stopping by.

Carla said...

Sirdar, It was a somewhat overwhelming experience. Those news clips just kept replaying themselves in my head. I hope you get to visit it sometime. China is a most interesting country.

Mark, Thanks. There are certain places that one cannot visit without being emotionally moved. Tienanmen Square is one of those places.

Carla said...

JBelle, I have felt like that about a few places, but I have learned to never say never. Some places are just higher up the list than others.

The Fool said...

Very interesting mix, Nomad. Nice hook with the notation of western appeal and capitalistic venturing, and then to come around and ground the reflection in the events of Tiananmen. Nicely done. The statue is also an interesting composition in itself, and appropriate. Kudos.

Steffi said...

Your travels are wonderful!I love to read about it!You travel alone -wow!Please show us more about your travels,Carla!

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

Carla said...

Fool, Thank you. China in and of itself is a very interesting mix. I really probably can't adequately capture that aspect...one almost has to experience to get it.

Steffi, Not to worry, we will be continuing on in this little venture. More pictures to come.

Carla said...

Rodrigo, Thanks for stopping by. I'll check out your blog shortly.

Dan said...

My goodness! You are indeed lucky to have had these experiences. Amazing! That is one HUGE square. Imagine all the exercise you could get walking around that if you lived close by.

dawn said...

Very moving again. I appreciate your perspective on the situations that you went through as well as those that occurred before you. Thanks again for the journey.

OrdinaryShark said...

A very interesting set of observations and descriptions. and feel the crushed hopes of a nation is powerful.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

When one looks at the 'power' of those statues and then to feel such emotions standing in the same place - where freedom was ruthlessly crushed by fear.

It must have been a moment to reflect upon and you have captured so wonderfully in your post, as indeed all your past post of your visit.

Peter

Debbie said...

I've gotten that feeling when I've visited castles in England and Whales. I can almost see the battles, the women trudging along with baskets, men on horseback...I love that. To be standing in a place that you know and can feel history took place. Goose bumps.

I just love reading about your travels. I hope one day to see some of these places and I'm sure when I do that you'll come to mind.

Diesel said...

Interesting to see capitalism at its crudest in the bastion of communism.

Carla said...

Dan, I indeed have been blessed by a great number of experiences. And yes, there is much exercise to be had walking around that square.

Dawn, Thanks for your comments. It was a moving experience and wonderful to be able to share it with those who are reading.

Carla said...

Ordinary Shark, After traveling in Asia, I gained immense appreciation for how rich we really are in North America and how much we really have on so many levels. Yes, we have issues and problems here, but in many respects we have become a very compliant population as we really have no idea about what it could be like.

Peter, My first question is: What's happened to your blog?? I tried to visit and it was no longer there. Those are interesting statues, aren't they? The whole experience stirred up quite an array of emotions for me.

Carla said...

Debbie, What you say about feeling the history of a place is so true. I have had that experience as well.

Diesel, I don't know what I actually expected, but it surprised me as well.

peter said...

Apologies Carla, I have been testing out a new blog, and still in its infancy.

At least I like the blog theme and still a few niggles to get over as can be expected.

Cheryl said...

I tried commenting earlier, but my computer froze for some reason.
Interesting post, I had no idea Tienanmen Square was so large.
It must have been somewhat overwhelming to imagine the events that happened there.

Carla said...

Peter, not a problem. Just glad you didn't up and totally disappear from the blogosphere.

Cheryl, The square is HUGE!!! I had no idea either. I mean I knew it was large, but really didn't comprehend how large until I actually saw it. It makes every other square I've seen seem puny.

Variant E said...

Do they sell little tank keychains at the square? Just kidding...

Your travel stories are really getting my travel bug revved up. I'm off to Dubai, Kenya, and Tanzania on Friday for a few weeks.

Carla said...

Variant E, No, but they do sell Mao watches (seriously!!!). Dubai, Kenya and Tanzania? How did you decide on those three? Look forward to hearing how you found it.

Mone said...

Growing up in East Germany I know exactly what you are talking about. The need for "devisen" money opens all the doors.

Carla said...

Mone, I would be interested in hearing of your experiences of being on the "inside" during that time. I remember my aunt and uncle visiting east Germany before the wall fell in Berlin. They come from a German background and grew up speaking German. They said it was very strange visiting East Germany as even though people could understand them, no one wanted to be seen talking to westerners as they never knew who was watching. Everyone was very suspicious of them.

tkkerouac said...

you have amazing life experiences and very brave if you are travelling alone.
These are very powerful photographs you are posting, in fact, I'd consider turning your blog into a book.

Carla said...

Thanks Tracy! Glad you enjoy. Hmm... you're putting ideas into my head.

Fede said...

Hi, here is my second sip.
I still have to devote an extra amount of focus when I read in English because there are so many words that it is worth investigating to enjoy your description; and this sort of extra focus actually hooked me into the square itself. I could feel the people around my and their insistence...Despite the square is half my backyard I felt claustrophobic...that's funny. I'll meet you at your next stop then. Take care.

Carla said...

Fede, It's odd to feel claustrophobic in a large open space, isn't it. I've never been a big one for crowds. It was an interesting experience.

pandave said...

i would so love to travel more. to have history hit you when you're standing on it? what a feeling.

Carla said...

Pandave, It is quite an experience. I would travel continuously if I could. One learns so much through travel.