China / Society

Crowds welcome National Day

By Zhao Xu (China Daily) Updated: 2014-10-02 04:00

Crowds welcome National Day

Tourists crowd into a commercial street in Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai on Wednesday, the start of the National Day golden week holiday. [Photo by Ding Ting / China Daily]

Highways, sites packed as more than 100 million begin their travels

They say if there's one day on the Chinese festival calendar when people should avoid going out, it is Oct 1, Chinese National Day and the first day of a long-expected seven-day break. And that is because, quite ironically, most people — despite bearing that lesson in mind — have ultimately found more reasons to venture out than simply stay inside.

Yet they shouldn't be blamed for being too forgetful about last year's impossible traffic jams on the highway and the equally impossible number of people who stormed the country's famous mountains and beaches like a whirlwind.

Plenty of bait has been thrown out by those who want to cash in on this once-a-year opportunity.

Preliminary official statistics showed about 108 million people started their travels on Wednesday, with 97 million traveling in cars and 11 million in trains.

In Beijing, the holiday mood did not seem dampened by the drizzle that arrived around noon.

More than 120,000 people flooded into Tian'anmen Square to take in the scents and sights of an ocean of flowers, and to immerse themselves in the strong sense of history.

When visitors left the ceremonial raising of the national flag in the morning, cleaners were left with 3.5 metric tons of garbage on the square.

With so many people traveling at the same time, traffic has become a nightmare.

Drivers trying to leave Beijing on the notorious Badaling expressway were stuck in traffic for at least three hours. On the Labor Day holiday on May 1, the length of vehicles stuck on the road was as long as 55 kilometers.

Passengers brought all kinds of supplies with them, from instant noodles to diapers, as there was nowhere to find a toilet in the middle of an expressway. People in Jiangsu province decided to play badminton while they waited in traffic.

For those who want to treat their taste buds, the holiday falls square in the autumn crab-harvesting season. That provides an extra reason for indulging, in addition to historic associations. In ancient times, crabs yielded by the Lake of Yangcheng in Jiangsu province were reputed to have inspired more than a few literary-minded gourmets who were in turn remembered by their poems.

Meanwhile, Shanghai is staying true to its status as an international metropolis, and any number of dishes offered by the city — be it savory or visual or audio — are fusion courses. This year, the National Day celebration includes the Munich Beer Festival in Pudong and the International Magic Show at Happy Valley.

Some people, however, choose National Day to get involved in charity work.

"As we are celebrating our National Day, it's important to remember that this date should be celebrated by and for every Chinese citizen. And that's why I take the day to promote awareness for children in poverty," said Wang Yi, a 32-year-old volunteer from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.


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