Happy National Day!
Golden Week is upon China and the whole country has been anxiously waiting for vacation. October 1st marked the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China - a weeklong celebration full of patriotism and travel. In Shanghai, I was amazed by the beaming lasers streaking across the sky every night. And across China, the streets would be filled with the sound of this cheerful song. I found myself singing along to the words before I could even figure out what the song was.
Me and my motherland cannot be separated for even a moment
Wherever I go, a hymn comes out
A song that repeated in my head and encapsulates the feeling of the holiday: Communal and festive, it represents a common joy and shared sense of pride. Despite the festivities, the holiday is also marked by something else: swathes of tourists. Since I live in Huangpu district, centrally located in downtown Shanghai and a 15-minute walk to the iconic Bund, there were people everywhere. In Chinese they have a phrase for this type of crowded environment: 人山人海, it literally translates to a mountain and ocean of people. I was warned by virtually every Chinese person not to travel that week and to avoid any place Chinese tourists would want to go. Since my roommates had decided to bravely venture out and travel to China, I was able to relax in the peace of my quiet apartment. With no school or work to attend to, I spent my time exploring the less touristy parts of Shanghai. To my surprise, I encountered a very quiet Shanghai outside of Huangpu district! It finally struck me that all the rich Shanghainese had left the city to travel. In the more residential neighborhoods of Shanghai, I found myself nearly alone in the subway station, especially when in Putuo district, the western part of the city. On my subway ride back across the city, I opened my WeChat and read some of the headlines relating to Golden Week: “800 Million Chinese Scheduled to Travel this Golden Week,” “Top Places to Avoid the Crowds this Golden Week.” I couldn’t even fathom 800 million people. I thought Thanksgiving in the United States was a busy time, yet nothing compares to China’s magnitude.
I was happy to just avoid the crowds and experience Shanghai’s relatively quiet atmosphere. I tuned into part of the national parade broadcasted from Beijing – an impressive spectacle paying homage to the Communist Party, the founders of modern China, the military, and food delivery drivers. Seriously, after the tanks and a display of new weaponry, followed a herd of delivery drivers. China has a booming food delivery market – a $37 billion industry – and many Chinese people, especially in Shanghai, rely on ordering food instead of cooking for themselves – an interesting image of new China showcasing its unique evolutionary path since its founding in 1949.
After the eight-hour parade and fireworks over the Forbidden City, the rest of the week was marked by what anyone else does when given a week of vacation. But now the post-Golden Week blues have set in. Next week I have midterms, and I could only wish it were holidays again.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>I'm Micol and I'm a fourth year student at Providence College studying Political Science and East Asian Studies. I am fascinated with Chinese culture and politics, which has led me to come back for a second semester in Shanghai. My favorite things to do in Shanghai are going to art galleries, eating at one of the million cute dessert shops, going to karaoke, reading about Chinese Marxism, and waking up to a day with blue sky.</p>