It was certainly an usual experience to explain democracy and the divided branches of the American system to our young Chinese guide. He couldn't seem to comprehend such a system, just as we cringed at the idea of his!
|Great Hall of the People|
|Soldiers in Tiananmen Square (you can see Chairmen Mao's picture in the background)|
We got a tiny taste of how seriously China takes their communism when we visited the mausoleum of Chairman Mao Zedong. There is generally a several hour wait in line to go through, but we came long right before closing and zipped in. We had to leave hats, bags, purses, backpacks, etc. all outside with a friend or rent a locker. Nothing is allowed inside except your person! No cameras, no flowers, etc. We went through several layers of security and then were rushed along a pathway and up the stairs into the mausoleum. We were herded through the building and past the preserved body of their revered communist leader (who was draped in the Chinese flag and encased in a glass box, no less). It was a bit surreal and I'm certainly glad we didn't stand in line for any length of time for the privilege, but it did seem to give us a glimpse into the culture and politics of this country.