On our first outing the day after arriving, we paid homage to Beijing as China’s center of political power by paying a visit to Tiananmen Square located right in the middle of the city. But first we needed to fill up on a power breakfast at VASCO’s at the Hilton Beijing Wangfujing, our hotel.
We asked for coffee… and we got a whole pot of coffee press coffee. Impressive.
While I’ve been to Tiananmen Square in the past, it was the first time for my friend, Denise. It was really exciting as we were approaching the Square, a short 5-10 minute ride from our hotel.
I keep forgetting how the scale of the streets, buildings, and open spaces that make up the Square and the walls that surround the Forbidden City adjacent are planned and designed in such a way to amp up “Wow” factor for any tourist, visitors, and all state guests. The wide lanes and the open spaces also make room for processions and pageantry of all sorts.
Tiananmen actually refers to the initial portal of the Forbidden City, also called The Gate of Heavenly Peace. This gate was first built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, and appears in many Chinese printed iconography, including the official National Emblem of China.
Tiananmen Square is the city square across the road from the Tiananmen and is the site of where most Political pageantries, shows, as well as public gatherings have been held over the years. And compared to when I first visited, the Square today is very safe, clean, and full of Chinese nationals from all over the country paying a visit.
Below is an ultra huge LED screen devoted to showing tourism-style travel shows of each region in China to visit. This is a recent addition which is new to me.
The reason why it’s safe to visit now, is because like any National Monument, these days the square is fenced off from all sides, and you have to cross a security checkpoint, complete with body and bag scanners to make sure you’re not carrying a weapon. The checkpoint will generally filter out any street hawkers or the type of people that tend to harass tourists in these kind of places.
Denise was just excited to have a neat backdrop to take “street style” photos for her fashion blog.
Unfortunately we didn’t have the whole day to explore… but there’s just so much to see here at the seat of China’s political power.
Everything is so tidy and clean.
On the way out we picked up a few propaganda goodies for fun.
There’s more in Beijing to see. Time to go!
It rained. Alot.
It made everything look a bit moodier which I love.
This post was originally published on November 20, 2012 for CNN.com and Hilton Hotels and Resorts for the CNNGO Experience Asia Contest.