I was in Asia during the 70th Year Celebration of the end of World War II.
For someone with very little knowledge of Asia’s involvement in the war, the whole experience was eye-opening. Not only to learn about the history, but to observe how each country fared after the war and the tension that still lives between these countries.
For most of us, World War II is something of the past, an event that our grandparent generation lived through, but in Asia, specially in South Korea and China, there is a feeling that the war was just yesterday. One could say that maybe the difference lies on being invaded and colonized, rather than fighting the war in other shores.
It was even more eye-opening to be in Beijing during the celebration to watch the Military Parade and the several tanks stroll by in a demonstration of power.
In the Hutongs, I woke up one day with every single house displaying the red flag of China put there by the government.
Community volunteers (the guys in blue shirts and red hats), made sure everything happened as planned.
During the Military Parade, I counted at least 3 different types of police/military groups making sure civilians stayed behind barriers. The video of Xi Jinping, president of China, commanding his military was something out of Hollywood!
In addition, no businesses were open and transportation lines shut down. Visas were not given to foreigners during this period, the Forbidden city was shut down and a curfew was imposed.
No traffic was allowed and some expats told me it was the first time in years they had seen the blue sky, which is usually covered in smog.
For travelers, the situation got real when the hostel kitchen closed for two full days, with no warning, which made it almost a survival situation, with travelers foraging for ramen noodles and beers to stock pile. Hey, if the end of world is close, you might as well have beer, right?
With all this, the feeling was one of uneasiness for me. I was completely unprepared for such a drastic change.
But for every tank and soldier I saw on the streets, I also got a smile from a resident or passerby.
They wanted me to look up at the jets or see some other attraction.
The kids still played around the Hutong alleys and for the most part, my fellow travelers and hostel mates seemed unfazed by all this, which made it almost seem like any other day on the road.
If you liked reading about Military parades in Beijing and want more things to do in China, check out these travel guides:
- The Hutongs of Beijing
- Cooking Class in Beijing
- Forbidden City
- The Great Wall of China
- Summer Palace of Beijing
- Temple of Heaven
- Terracotta Warriors
- Xian Travel Guide
- Lama Temple in Beijing
- Eating Weirds Foods in Beijing
- Things to do in Shanghai
Post published Oct 2016 and updated Jun 2020.