The People’s Republic of China celebrated its 70th birthday today which means it has endured longer than its sponsor the USSR did.
Politics glossed over in one sentence, what did the mean on the ground?
A lot of road closures. Some of which made no sense. At one junction, pedestrians were refused entry to continue walking South but cyclists were able to continue.
I knew I should have borrowed a bike from the hostel – I’m finally in a city where cyclists take priority over vehicles. Probably, because of the sheer mass.
I didn’t even attempt to head towards the Forbidden City and Tian’anamen Square. I had followed the most of the Palace the day before and I knew these roads were closed.
All of the streets around my hostel were decorated to celebrate the anniversary.
Heading for Beihai Park to avoid the crowds was today’s cunning plan… except it was about as useful as one of Baldrick’s endeavours.
It was closed.
People were sitting down along the closed road alongside the park and I assumed they were grabbing the best spots for parade viewing.
I’m not actually certain that any parades did pass. The people had just taken a seat to watch the broadcast from Tian’anamen Square on their phones.
Across the road from the Northern part of the park are the Shicha Lakes.
Around Quinhai Lake is the renovated Lotus Market which takes its name from the flowers on the water.
Both Quinhai and Houhai were busy, though not crowded, with people finding shady spots to watch their phones.
The area is also a spot for eating and drinking and there were several hawkers selling these syrup coated fruit snacks.
The hostel where I am staying is North of the Forbidden Palace. This area is filled with hutongs, the traditional buildings and homes of Beijing.
This is a quieter part of town and away from the official events. Even so, the streets were decorated, and not only with flags.
There were also volunteer safety marshals on every street, though it didn’t seem busy enough to warrant their presence.
I wandered into one of the city’s recently developed parks and found these ladies, in a clearing, singing and waving flags. It seemed that many people were finding their own way to mark the event.
On returning to the hostel, I found the staff watching the broadcasts of the pageantry that continued through the evening.
I also heard fellow guests discussing their visits to the Drum and Bell Towers today – the only cultural sites that could be reached from this hostel and were open.
*Featured Photo: Lotus Flower 70th Anniversary floral display. The main streets were all decorated.
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