China is one of the biggest countries I have ever attempted to see. Everything seems oversized, Tiananmen Square which includes four empty spaces, one where the world saw that lone, nameless student facing down the oversized Chinese military tank, but the other three are just as big, just as impressive. In the middles of the four ‘squares’ is a monument to “Peoples’ Heroes” unconnected to any dynasty as the Red Guard took care during their reign to tear down, burn, or generally destroy anything beautiful or culturally significant from any historical period containing the word “dynasty.”
However, the Imperial Palace (Forbidden City) buildings escaped mostly unscathed. The one building you see in photos is one of 13, all with huge squares, hot in the sun and blue skies we found in April and filled to overflowing with Chinese tourists who love to have their pictures taken with any unsuspecting American tourists. I was in at least twenty Chinese family portraits. But the first day’s touring proved too much for one elderly woman in our group who fainted at building number 10.
Flying into China I noticed small villages nestled in ragged mountain valleys. Most organized in careful square patterns, only one seemed irregular as if this single village had been there before anyone thought to draw plans for straight roads. But Beijing looked modern with new turtle-shaped airport, modern highways with toll booths built to resemble traditional roof lines, masses of beautiful high rise apartments buildings, new cars being driven by the new Chinese rich I guess as there are many BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, etc. all new and shining. None of the honking or erratic driving. Much better manners than Boston.