February 9th, 2012
Flag-raising Ceremony – Airport
Our flight was scheduled in the early afternoon so we did not have much time to sightsee that day. In fact even if we went sightseeing we wouldn’t see much because the smog was terrible. We were lucky that the majority of our trip was under beautiful blue skies (at least we could see the sky lol) because I would be quite bummed if all I could see were my immediate surroundings.
My mom and I woke up extra early (before sunrise early) so we could see the flag raising ceremony in Tiananmen Square. A small platoon of soldiers marched in unison carrying the Chinese flag to its destination (honestly it must be a communism thing because the soldiers took their march seriously… they made changing of the guards at Buckingham palace look amateur). The Chinese national anthem resonated throughout the square as the flag climbed to the top of the flag pole and the entire flag raising ceremony was great. The flag-raising experience would’ve been perfect if I didn’t have to look at Chairman Mao’s gigantic smug portrait above the Gate of Heavenly Peace (the crimes he committed to China was unimaginable… I still don’t understand why he is regarded so highly in China).
On our taxi ride to the airport we were greeted by an ultra talkative local Beijing driver. He was a loud, honest, and warm personality that I had associated Beijing with. He was proud of his heritage and he made sure that we knew he was local (he lived in a hutong just a couple blocks from our hotel and he could easily sell the property for millions, but because he wanted Beijing to maintain its heritage he refused to sell out to another condo developer. (Apparently Beijing was also flooded with “uncivilized foreign migrant workers” which he deemed unfortunate). The taxi driver insisted that I try speaking Chinese to him because I looked Chinese (and by that time I was a little bit more comfortable having some practices in China). After about 30 minutes in gridlock traffic it turned out the police had shut down traffic for a mid level government official… seriously!? Because of the traffic jam we were running late for our flight and our local driver was determined to deliver us to the airport on time (alive or not). He turned on that “Chinese driving” switch and we found ourselves traveling at high speeds on every part of the pavement (median, in between lanes, curb-side, etc). By the end of the taxi ride we were actually conversing in Mandarin (Me = extremely broken Chinese but at least he understood, or pretended to understand) and my wife was suffering from motion sickness. Needless to say because of our taxi driver’s determination we managed to catch our flight.