Aug. 15, 2011
BEIJING - If there was one thing that members of the Georgetown men's basketball team learned on Monday morning it was that there are a lot of people in Beijing.
During the team's first full day in China's capital city, the Hoyas and the traveling party of staff, alumni and fans hopped on three buses and drove through downtown Beijing and made their way for some sight-seeing.
Tour guides explained some of the sites the team saw as they drove along through the downtown area as people made their way to work and citizens of Beijing began the work week.
The buses dropped off for a 10-minute walk to Tiananmen Square, the largest square in the world which can hold up to one million people. Tiananmen Square, named after the Tiananmen Gate which separates it from the Forbidden City, has great cultural significance as it was the site of several events in Chinese history, including the protests of 1989.
As the team made its way through Tiananmen Square, a light rain began to fall, but it did not dampen spirits. While walking through Tiananmen Square, various players were stopped by people asking them to take pictures with them. At one point, as the team stood outside of the Forbidden City and gathered for a team photo, the picture was delayed for 5 to 10 minutes as person after person came up and just hopped in the photo.
"I didn't expect it," sophomore guard Markel Starks (Accokeek, Md./Georgetown Prep) said. "I should have because they said it might, but for people to just come up and take your picture or just want to be in the photo was unbelievable. When we were getting our team picture taken, the number of people just jumping in the picture with us was wild."
From there, the team walked underneath a set of tunnels and came out to the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing and now houses the Palace Museum. For nearly 500 years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, from their wives to their concubines, as well as the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government.
They were built over a course of 14 years from 1406 to 1420 and the complex consists of 980 buildings with 8,707 bays of rooms and covers nearly 8 million square feet. The palace complex is the standard of traditional Chinese palatial architecture and is credited with influencing cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere.
"We've been walking for what feels like 17 days," Starks said. "Just to see how the architecture of these buildings has been done and to see the delicacy of the Forbidden City...the amount of people is amazing. You don't realize it."
"Everyone is having a good time and the players are really enjoying this experience. I'm really enjoying this. Just to see the families and kids running around. The size of this place is unbelievable. I've never seen anything like this."