Beijing Stories and Tips

My Search for Mao

The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall Photo, Beijing, China

In the middle of Tiananmen Square sits the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, a mausoleum constructed to house the remains of the founder of communist China. Mao is sort of like a god in China. He is on the money, on t-shirts, and lighters. His picture looks over Tiananmen Square and his book (the little red book) is the number 2 all-time bestseller behind the Bible. People still come from all over China to visit the mauseleum to pay respect to the man who made China what is today. And so I desired to pay my respect (and also see Mao in the flesh) by making a visit to the Mao Mausoleum. It was a quest of sorts. A quest to see what the big deal was about and maybe look into the eyes of a man who changed the destiny of an entire nation.

The mausoleum was built after Mao's death in 1976 to house the pickled corpse of Mao. Mao wanted to be cremated, but his would-be successor, Hua Guofeng, decided to build the gray, concrete building as a power ploy. Mao supposedly rises from a freezer every morning and is housed in a crystal coffin. His body is draped with a flag and his face is supposed to look unreal, like wax. Our tour guide said that the body is not real, the the real one is saved for politicians to see. I, however, was not able to see for myself what the body looked like. I went on three seperate occassions and each time it was closed. The hall has irregular hours and is not open all the time. I went when it was supposed to be open but it was closed because of Chinese New year. But let me tell you the times. It is closed on Mondays. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday it is open from 8:30 to 11:30. And then 2 to 4. On Wednesday, Friday and Sunday it is just open from 8:30 to 11:30. Good luck and if you see Mao, tell him I said hello.

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