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Nation gears up for incoming festival, holiday
By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-09-25 01:12

There is perhaps no better time to experience China's capital than during the week-long National Day holiday.

Tian'anmen Square, stretching in front of the Forbidden City, is ablaze with the colour of 300,000 red and yellow blooms.

The Tian'anmen Square is decorated with more than 300,000 pots of flowers as tourists begin to flock to Beijing with the week-long National Day holiday drawing near. The country is set to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China, which falls on October 1, 2004. [newsphoto]  

The contrast between the two worlds, that is China, is vividly captured at glance. Looking north the ancient palace of her emperors stands unmoveable, a reminder of a past unequalled. To the south is a symbol of the New China, one that came of age with the manned space flight of Shenzhou-V late last year. The 21st century symbol is in the form of a 17.5-metre 40 ton model space ship.

At dawn on October 1 thousands will gather in Tian'anmen to watch the raising of the national flag. For Chinese people across the nation, and in many parts of the world, it is a profound moment. And for overseas visitors it is an extraordinary spectacle.

"Tian'anmen Square is always the grandest site to feel the festive mood during the National Day holiday," said Hu Hongguang, 38, a middle school teacher from Xiangfan, in Central China's Hubei Province.

Beijing's Tourism Administration predicts 150 million visitors will pass through the capital during the seven-day holiday period.

Transportation, tourist destinations, parks, and restaurants are all gearing up for overload.

Tighter traffic controls will be in force to keep things moving, particularly around the top tourist attractions of Tian'anmen Square, the Summer Palace and roads out to the Great Wall.

The best way of getting about will be by public transport or for shorter distances bicycle or on foot..

A kaleidoscope of celebrations will be on offer, particularly as the holiday coincides with the traditional Moon Festival, or mid-autumn lunar holiday. But the spotlight is falling on a restaurant offering a very special dinner -- an exact replica of the banquet in Beijing Hotel, which marked the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949..

The 'First National Banquet' at the Yuhuatai Restaurant will include eight cold and six hot courses, most in the typically-sweet Huaiyang style from Yangzhou, in East China's Jiangsu Province.

"More than 10 tables have already been booked for the national feast," said restaurant manager Sun Chaorong. The whole set banquet costs 600 yuan (US$72.5) and serves 10 people.

"It is not a luxury feast yet full of significance," she added.

Family reunions are the heart of Chinese holidays

With year's traditional Mid-Autumn Festival only two days ahead of the National Day holiday, many people have high expectations for the extended festive period.

A survey conducted by the Social Survey Institute of China shows the majority of people will stay at home to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, but go out during the National Day holiday season, reports the China News Service.

More than 2,000 people from China's major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, responded to the survey. Sixty-eight per cent said they would have a "get-together" dinner with friends or family to mark the Moon Festival.

The traditional holiday has far more significance for married people over 25. Most of them, if not all, would like to have a family reunion during the holiday.

Traditional festivals were recognized by more than 90 per cent of those questioned, who said they thought they were very important and should continue.

As for the week-long holiday, about 53 per cent of the respondents said they would like to go on tour, while 41 per cent said they hoped to spend the time out and about or visiting friends.

Only 6 per cent of the respondents said they did not want to do anything other than stay at home, resting.

More than half of the people surveyed said the problem that bothered them most was the difficulty in buying train and air tickets.

"Tickets are almost as hard to get as during the Spring Festival," said Xiao Chen, of SINOPEC International Travel Service Co.

She said September 30 and October 1 would be peak days and another peak could appear between October 5 to 7 when most travellers return for work.

"There are definitely no discounted air tickets during the holiday season and train tickets are also hard to get," she said.

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