I did it! I braved the frightening subways and went downtown all by myself last night to see Tian'anmen Square. The sun was just setting as I arrived, but once it went down they lit up all the whole square! It was amazing. All of these gigantic buildings all lit up like christmas with lights along the edges and big lights illuminating the faces. I didn't have my tripod or the good SLR with me (blame jodi for that) so the pictures are a little blurry but enjoy!
Somebody told me that Mao's embalmed remains are in one of these buildings. I think it's this one. So if you're ever in china and you get a hankering to see what an embalmed communist looks like. I think I can point you in the right direction.
Note the big full moon. This weekend (on Sunday) is the Autumn Festival where they eat mooncake and drink jasmine flavored wine. I'll join with them eating mooncake, but maybe I'll just drink some jasmine herbal tea instead.
Since I was on Tian'anmen Square, I tried to keep my capitalist sentiment to myself and i even wore my best Commi Red shirt- nevermind that it's emblazoned with the name of a capitalist western institution (U of U) it probly fooled em.
There were tons of big brightly lit Olympics things set up on the square. It was really amazing! They don't allow freedom of assembly here though so they are very strict about what size groups can gather at the square and what they are allowed to do.
And no, I couldn't help myself. I had to go traipsing about down exciting alleyways filled with strange smells and sounds. I inevitably ended up haggling prices down with little shop owners for the typical Chinese trinkets and souveniers. I love haggling over prices with people in another language! They immediately tell you something costs literally 10 times what it's worth and so I offer next to nothing and meet at somewhere near the actual price. I really miss having Jodi with me though. It's great with her there because I can play good cop bad cop and make her be the bad cop who will only let me spend so much for whatever thing. But I still got smokin good deals. I know because each shop you go in asks what you paid for the stuff in your bag. They actually grab it open and look inside and when I told them how much they were really surprised- they said I definitely got a good deal explaining they sell it for 3 or 4 times that.
The whole place was packed with people from every country imagineable. The shop owners all know a few words in English like "Hello sir, come, come" or "hey handsome, come buy, come buy" and then when you haggle over prices they grab a calculator and they type in a price and you act all shocked and erase it and type in a much lower price. this goes on until you get a good deal. I walked out of many a shop though where they wouldn't budge.
Tian'anmen square, and the subway ride there and back, was definitely a highlight of this trip so far!