In 2007, our 1st trip to Beijing I was so excited to go to the Mao Mausoleum. or the Mao-soleum as I have renamed it. As they prepared for the upcoming Olympics that year, they also were preparing Mao & his Mausoleum so it was closed. I was devastated. I knew I had to return to Beijing one day to see it.
Why I needed to go… well Chairman Mao, found of the Communist party of China who passed away in 1976, is preserved and is on display certain times of the day. He is also out on display, in a crystal coffin only certain times of the day, the rest of the time, he is lowered into a storage area which is disaster proof. Rumor is the Chinese didn’t know what they were doing when preserving him… so they created a wax figure of him as well. I have hear sometimes it is the real Mao and sometimes it may be wax Mao. I need to go see this for myself and see if it is real or the wax.
I talked about it all week in Beijing to my co-workers that I was going to see Chairman Mao. They were going to go to the Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, all great places.. but I was set out to see Mao. The line is ridiculously long and they do not allow bags or cameras. We had to check our bags and if you had a camera in them, they charged you more to store them. They also have many security checks and admission is free if you have an ID (Squat Toilet License) I panicked a little for all I had on me was my Driver’s License for I don’t have my Passport back yet, what if I couldn’t get in! License worked. I am in! The line to get in was HUGE, wrapping along the building however it moves really quickly, we were in the building in 25 minutes. I was quite popular in line, being a Lowai and all, lots of stares and comments good thing no cameras allowed. Right before you enter the Mao-soleum there is a booth that sells flowers you can bring in with you and lay before a giant statue of Mao. Many people buy the flowers. I think they have a flower scam going on. The flowers they sell are wrapped in plastic… and as you enter, if and only if you have a flower as you able to go off the cattle pathway and place the flower, standing up nicely in a row on this cart…in front of a large statue sitting of Mao, it is very Abe Lincoln statue like, wish I had my camera! I really think may resell the flowers. For they are all wrapped in plastic and when the cart is full, wheel it out and sell them again. It was fascinating to see the people place their flowers and bow in front of the statue as they would in a temple of worship.
Inside there is no talking and the line is double file as you go through, there was no way the pushy folks were going to push me to the outside lane, I wanted to be as close as I could, push all you want, I am not budging and you can’t yell at me in Chinese, for we are all silent. Pays to be a “big girl” for this experience. There is a weird yellow/gold color light shining on his face. He is in his uniform, with the Chinese flag covering him. There is no stopping and guards move you along quickly. I didn’t have much time to study him but from looking at it, it looked a little Madame Tussaud’s to me but who knows. I think I need to go again to see if I can tell a difference. The whole experience took 30 minutes, not bad at all when there are thousands of people going through, pouring out of the building.