October 26, 2009

The Mausoleum of Mao

Mao Zedong was the first leader of the People's Republic of China and one of the most influential figures of modern times. He died in 1976 and construction of his mausoleum began soon after. I visited the final resting place of the Great Helmsman alongside thousands of Chinese peasants on a cold Beijing morning. The masses lined up outside his mausoleum, eager to pay respect to his waxlike remains. Visitors are asked to produce identification proof before they are allowed in to the viewing area. Many stopped to buy flowers before entering the tomb.

The queue moved surprisingly quickly and I did not have to wait long before coming face to face with the Chairman. Security guards ushered everyone through, allowing for only several seconds of Mao viewing time per comrade. No photographs are allowed inside the complex, so everyone bobbed from side to side trying to get as good a view as possible of the man who helped China become a major world power. As they exited, they had a chance to buy some Mao-morabilia before heading back to their homes across the nation.


"If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience."
- Mao Zedong -

October 22, 2009

Foreign Devils in the Flowery Kingdom

Many foreigners come to China to experience a different culture, travel the land, learn a new language, or to build a career. Some come to seduce innocent members of the local female populace. These women of virtue often deduce the ignoble nature of the scoundrel in question. Although lacking proper English skills, they are still able to scold the callous foreigner about their improper behaviour:
You are very serious vowed on Wednesday to meet us, but you not coming. I can understand you are very tired that day, but you dave not informed me the day.
First you do not respect me!
Second you do not care about me!
Third you are a person of bad faith!

October 21, 2009

Beijing Blazing

My first Monday in Beijing I came home from work. My landlord was there. I told him I had nothing to do for the rest of the day. He told me that it was the last day of the Lantern Festival, so I should visit a park to see what it was all about. I ventured outside, took several buses, and got thoroughly lost. Fireworks were exploding left, right, and centre throughout the city. It was the last day of the Spring Festival, so everyone had to use up their fireworks before the citywide ban was back in place. After watching the light show for a while, I looked around and saw what appeared to be a gigantic chimney with smoke coming out from the top. I had heard rumours of giant smokestacks that provided heating to all the homes in Beijing so I walked toward it.

Source: Gizmodo

When I got near, I realized that it was a skyscraper on fire. There were sparks at the top, and the flames were slowly making their way down the floors. I watched in awe as the fire slowly spread, before suddenly erupting into a massive inferno. As the flames engulfed the building, ash and small pieces of debris began to rain down. The sky turned black, the smoke blocking out the stars and the moon.

Source: BD Online

I backed away with the rest of the crowd that had gathered to gawk at the fiery sight. The fire reflected of the glossy exteriors of the surrounding office towers, giving the illusion that the whole area was ablaze. The eerie spectacle drew a crowd of thousands. The onlookers were intent on breaking the Guinness World Record for most camera phones used simultaneously in one place. Even passengers on buses driving by quickly flipped open their handsets to snap a few pictures of the destruction. My camera had ran out of batteries, so I remained an eyewitness before returning to the safety of my apartment. The inside of my ears were filled with soot and my forehead had turned black.


"Fire and people do in this agree, they both good servants,
both ill masters be."
- Fulke Greville