The hotel location is ideal for the main tourist sites, the Tomb, National Museum, Railway museum and Tianamen Sq all within walking distance. First call today was Mao’s Mausoleum which I reached after negotiating a web of subways to get across major carriageways. Eventually I arrd at the sq and found the bag deposit area from there it was just a case of following people and joining a huge Q. One thing I have noticed about the Chinese, perhaps only the city dwellers, is thier ignorance and lack of manners. Shop keepers snatch money from your hands and people generally push and shove wherever you are. The Q for Mao’s tomb was no different until you entered the building itself then a hush fell and a natural order was established for the 20 or so second walk past the coffin of, it must be admitted a rather fake looking Chairman. Rumour has it that during the embalming an ear fell off and had to be sewn on again. I tried to think of a politician I would like pickled and there are quite a few unfortunately they are still alive. After viewing Mao you pass thru the rest of the chambers and back outside to a row of tacky souvineir stalls selling lighters, keyrings, photos almost anything you could possibly not want adorned with the fizzog of Mao.
After reclaiming my bag I headed for the Railway museum only to find for simplicitys sake it was easier to visit the National museum first.
The frontage of the National Museum is massive as is everything else about it the exhibition halls are well laid out and although an audio guide was available I decided to see how much english language signage there was. The exhibition halls were covered with potraits and pictures all of which were commented on in Chinese, small exhibits in cases had a few lines of descriptive text in English. China is obviously very proud of its rise from fledgling state to world power and particularly proud of its political rise. Slogans adorn the entrances to the exhibition halls.
There was quite a lot of statuary by Dali but I was unable to determine if it was a special exhibition or not. There was a huge cabinet containing a pile of flags and paper designs this was the design stages that the PRC flag had gone through. Also on display was a grisly exhibit of a set of gallows used to hang Govt dissenters.
The Railway Museum is only a short walk from the Nat Museum and is in an old station although externally or internally you would be hard pushed to recognise it as such. On 4 floors its well laid out with signage directing you through the exhibits. It is the top two floors that are the most interesting though as they are given over totally to Chinas bullet train network with a 3D movie and a simulator both good fun.
I headed back to the hotel and had a quick wash and change and set out for the Red Theatre and the Kung Fu show. I had decided to walk there and get the tube back I left with over an hour and a half before I was to meet the tour guide with my ticket hoping that I would be able to get something to eat near the theatre. I arrd with about 20 mins to spare only to find the only food on offer was popcorn! I got a bag and a coke and settled down to watch the show, which, unfortunately seemed like the last thing a group of Africans were going to do. All through the show they talked and were on thier phones despite complaints from various other patrons eventually one of them got the message and told the rest to cool it. The show lasted about 90 mins and was a story about a boy and his master well choreographed with acrobatics and some martial arts in it. Quiet enjoyable.
I walked along to the nearest subway station and got the tube back and was back in my digs for just before 11 abs whacked and ready to try and get a nights sleep!