Monday, September 13, 2010

China, Day 4: The Mao-soleum

(Subject line courtesy of Sarah and The Rough Guide to China)

When I was in high school, I saw Discovery Channel special about mummies. It mostly overlooked Egyptian mummies and focused on European bog bodies and the Chinchorro mummies of Peru, but there was also a section on the mummification of modern politburos such as Lenin, Ho Chi Minh and Mao. Lenin is so well preserved that even eighty years after his death, his body is still squishy! (I am many things, but squeamish isn't one of them.) Look, mummies are just generally awesome, but I'm especially fascinated by the modern ones.

Mao's mummy is laid to rest in Beijing, and there was no way I was visiting China without paying my respect to the Chairman. Sarah and I went on Thursday morning before she left for the airport. The mausoleum is large building in the middle of the of Tiananmen Square, a mere ten minute taxi ride from our hostel. We stored our bags at the luggage check and joined the line to enter the mausoleum. Even though we were at Tiananmen Square by 9:00 in the morning, there was already a long line snaking around the mausoleum. We waited for at least an hour, but the line was constantly moving and before long we were past the metal detectors (our second metal detectors, since we had to go through a metal detector just to get into Tiananmen Square) and the florist booth selling flowers in memory to the Great Leader.

Mao is housed in a crystal coffin. His mummy is a rather distinctive orange hue and he clashes with the red Chinese flag covering him. We can't even be sure we saw the real Mao; there is a wax model of the body which is sometimes displayed in place of the real chairman. We shuffled past in less than a minute and emerged into the bright sunlight of Tiananmen Square.

Mausoleum of Mao Zedong
The Mao-soleum

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