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October 2018. I’d been queuing for about an hour and a half by the time I finally arrived back at the entrance of Nanjing Massacre Memorial with its towering weeping woman sculpture. Hmm, where was the ticket office exactly? From what I’d understood entry was free but you still had to produce ID, register your attendance and receive a ticket. Now I had no idea what the system was, so I just shuffled along with everyone else to see where it would take me.
October 2018. The line was now snaking around the entrance to what looked like a security point with a bag scanning station. Mercifully this part of the ordeal was moving swiftly and I passed through without incident, the X-ray girl clearly not giving two shits about the contents of anyone’s bags. Similarly, the guards were just trying to get everyone through and had no interest in performing body checks.
October 2018. On the other side of security I was faced with the depressing vista of an immobile mass of people as far as the eye could see. In the distance was, I presumed, the ticket office and entrance point. There was no movement for another fifteen minutes and then suddenly a manic surge forward that nearly made me lose my footing. Then stationery again for ten minutes before another uncompromising wave forward. They were clearly staggering entry, so all I could do was wait for the next heave ho and take the elbows in my ribs and the blows to my head from various umbrellas. To my right a clearly distressed couple had decided to give up and were trying to get out. But they literally couldn’t force their way through the brick wall of flesh and bones. With nothing better to do, I followed their efforts for a bit before they got swallowed up in a sea of heads and shoulders.
October 2018. What I thought was the ticket office wasn’t the ticket office at all, but rather ANOTHER section of queuing housed in a giant courtyard. It was here that I realized the ticket offices had been closed altogether and that, for real this time, the museum entrance lay at the end of this latest line.
October 2018. My iPhone stopwatch read two hours and twenty-five minutes when I finally made it into the museum. For that last onslaught I had to deal with an incredibly idiotic grandmother who spent the entire time digging her nails into my back and trying to burrow her head under my elbows so she squeeze in ahead of me. I mean really, what was the ******* point? Grandma was quite the go-getter, but I defiantly stood my ground and made sure she failed in her attempts.
A huge wave of relief washed over me when I got inside and felt the air conditioning hit my sweaty face. So I sat down on a bench for a moment to cool down and reflect on what I’d just experienced. Having gotten my breath back, visited the men’s room and congratulated myself on getting this far, I headed down the escalator to begin my journey through one of the darkest stories in China’s long history.
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