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Whew, we are back boys and girls!
Back from where?
Well, China of course!
Although we spent the majority of the time in Beijing, we were pretty lucky (or unlucky) to experience Golden Week.
What’s Golden Week?
Well, Wikipedia explains it as the “week from the 29th April to early May containing a number of Japanese holidays”.
Nice, nice – the Japanese really deserve it you know? What with their car-making, raw fish and exemplary manners.
Good for them.
Eh? Why’d you tell a story about Japan, weren’t you in China?
I like stories.
Anyway, the Chinese Golden Week we are referring to, is the bi-annual week long holiday (the other being Lunar New Year) in which everyone in China heads back to their families, go travelling and generally start acting the goat.
Given MrsFrugalSamurai and I were there on-the-ground, here’s a few of the wacky and wonderful we encountered during Golden Week.
Crowds, crowds and more crowds
Given around 700 million Chinese are travelling domestically, it makes sense that a fair chunk of them would wind up in the nation’s capital.
And it would make even more sense that most congregate around the tourist and cultural sites.
Here’s a sense of the crowds on offer:
Moral of the story – if you don’t like crowds, avoid Golden Week.
With so many people, you’d be forgiven to think that crime and security isn’t quite there – but in general the Chinese are a fairly relaxed lot.
However the sheer number of crowds means that the police and security personnel are out in visible force.
It’s a big deterrent to any wannabe misdemeanors out there:
And on public transport, there are guards looking out for trouble also:
But sometimes, looking out for trouble gets a bit too much you know?
So rest assured, it’s pretty safe and secure during Golden Week.
There’s a ton of national pride and patriotism during Golden Week – maybe it’s the Communist Government doing its job, the constant propaganda in the state media or the fact that the people themselves feel proud about who they are, you can’t get away from it.
Every street shopfront, corner, even house has a national flag.
Unsurprisingly, much has been made of China and it’s cleanliness.
It’s unhygienic, streets are dirty and the weather is downright hazardous is what we prepared ourselves for.
But you know, the government is trying very hard (according to official media “reports”) in terms of trying to solve the issue of cleanliness.
During our time there, the weather was remarkably clear and the streets much cleaner than last year when we were here last.
Speaking with the locals, it’s because the government made a push in the last 12 months to “clean” up the streets – by relocating vast numbers of “outsiders” (those without Beijing ID cards) and enhancing the image of the city in general.
If you venture outside the main city, in the outskirts – the contrast is pretty spectacular:
MrsFrugalSamurai and I even overheard a 12 year old girl talking to her friend to stop on the side of the street so they could pick up loose bits of rubbish pro-actively.
I was astounded – the government might be brainwashing people yes, but you have to admit it’s doing something right at least if this is the next generation.
People are generally relaxed
The population of Beijing swells by around 50% during Golden Week, from its normal 20 million-ish to around 30 with the huge intake of domestic tourists.
But you know, just walking around and observing, most of the locals seem pretty relaxed and just carry on their day to day whether it’s hanging out at the local park:
Having a hearty card game with the neighbours:
Or even just going for a fish:
Just normal Joe’s going about their normal lives – kinda like you and me really!
So for those of you who ever wondered what it’s like to be in one of the busiest cities during one of the busiest times of the year – hopefully that gives you a snippet of what it feels like.
Of course, there’s wayyyyy more to it – but that’s for next time!
MrsFrugalSamurai and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves on this trip, and you get a sense that China is really trying to push itself into a new age and attempting to push it’s main cities, into the tier 1 global rankings.
So if you ever want to visit the “old” China before this metamorphosis takes place – come and find out for yourself what it’s all about.
Because I can assure you, it’s growing up.
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