Friday, January 23, 2009

Great Hall of the People, Beijing

After a warm and comfortable sleep at night in the room fully-equipped with heater, I awoke to the fragrant smell of home-cooked rice noodles in my hostess' house. The appearance looked nothing but simple but the bowl of noodles was extremely filling. I had it at 9am and it could last me until 3pm, in the cold cold winter!

Home-cooked noodles

Our morning agenda was to visit the Great Hall of the People located near the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. The Great Hall is the political hub of Beijing where national conferences are held. It is also home of the National People's Congress. Built in September 1959, the construction of Great Hall of People took only 10 months in total despite its massive construction, which is unprecedented in the architect history.

The security in the building was really tight and no bags were allowed inside the building. We had to keep our bags (with a fee) at the bag depository counter located outside the East Gate of the Great Hall. This was the same place to go to purchase the entrance ticket, at the price of RMB30 (RM15). Before you could enter, there were also strict security scans at the entrance.

Ticket & depository counters

Again, I was impressed with the massive architecture of the giant building. Every corner of the building was built with great detail, with such great patience.

Great Hall of the People

Standing on the stairs of the Great Hall, you could look across the street and see the Tiananmen Square with the national flag already raised.

Flag has been raised!

Luckily for us, during our visit, the place was rather empty, since it was an off-peak season. We almost had the entire hall to ourselves!

Entrance hall

Row of seats

There was actually a guide within the building that was giving explanations on the significance of this place, but it was only conducted in Mandarin. For a Mandarin-blind person like me, it wasn't much of a use, so I just proceeded to explore the building on my own.

The grand main hall

witch at the entrance

Nothing could separate Chinese culture from paintings, I suppose, which explained the many beautiful paintings that were decorating the interior of this building.

witch with painting

There were also halls named after the provinces and autonomous regions (hence the name Great Hall). Thirty-two provinces together with two autonomous regions each owns its hall, having its unique characteristics of the province. We only managed to visit certain halls since some of the halls were not accessible.

Yunnan hall

Halfway visiting the halls, we were shown to the main auditorium which was gigantic! According to Wikipedia, the Great Auditorium has a volume of 90,000 cubic meters, seats 3,693 in the lower auditorium, 3,515 in the balcony, 2,518 in the gallery and 300 to 500 on the dais. That's a total of almost 10,000 in full capacity!

Main Auditorium

Outside of the main auditorium were several large frames of poetry, which, again, meant nothing to me as a Chinese illiterate. :(


I was lucky to spot another group of guards marching past me during my visit. Only then I realized that Beijing guys are really tall! I was just standing very close to them when they marched past and I noticed that all of them were at least 5 feet 10 or above. If you know how tall I am, you'd believe my judgment. :)

Look out! Marching guards

This was the most beautiful and the largest painting that I saw in this building. It was portraying the greatness of the Great Wall of China.

Prettiest painting in the building

More halls to visit after that...

Guangdong hall

Another painting

The sun rise

Shanghai hall was the most boring of all, I wonder why. It paled in comparison to all the other halls.

Shanghai hall

We also visited the State Banquet Hall, which was a wonder of its own. The State Banquet Hall with an area of 7,000 square meters can entertain 7,000 guests, and up to 5,000 people can dine at one time.

Banquet hall

More halls along the corridor.

Beijing hall

Spotted this weird rock formation thing.

Rock formation

There is nothing spicy from the appearance of the Sichuan hall.

Sichuan hall

We're not allowed to touch any of the paintings.

Yet another painting

There you have it. A virtual tour of the many halls inside the Great Hall of the People. There are many more architecture wonders to be explored in the city of Beijing alone! Stay tuned!


foongpc said...

Wow! What a nice place! Must make plans to go there! I prefer not many people around, then you can have the place to yourself! So go during non peak periods, yes? : )

iamthewitch said...

You're right... Less people means less crowd and less hustle. :)