Saturday, 4 October 2008

Golden Week

Chinese people celebrated National Day on October 1st. It is 59 years since the People's Republic of China was formed. They are looking forward to the celebration next year - 60 years. Should be a big one.

Oddly we see very little of the celebration of this National Day. When we have asked the students, they say that it is "celebrated" by being with family and shopping. Shopping is the favourite hobby of Chinese. They say it. Shopping is what friends do together.

I would like to see more traditional Chinese celebrations. Perhaps national dancing, music or similar, but if these sort of events are held, we don't know where they are. We don't see them. Maybe the many Chinese posters advertise these sort of events, but we can't read them. In any case, the students don't know. They say the celebrations are just visiting family and shopping.

Certainly the city shopping areas are busy. This is the time when many sales are held. It is the beginning of autumn so winter clothes are appearing in the fashion shops, and the stores are getting rid of summer stock at discount prices. The shopping frenzy that Chinese people seem to participate in is quite amazing. It is hard to register that much of the world think that China is more third world. Anything but in the affluent cities.

Our visit to Hangzhou on Monday reminded us that a holiday period is not a good time to travel around here. Even in Shaoxing the crowds have been hard to deal with. The busses are packed. Standing room only. No limit on the numbers on a bus here. Pack them in. Tightly. Hang on to your purse. Pickpockets find these times easy pickings.

Sue and I did go to Lu Xun Walk this week. Again it was packed. Lu Xun was one of China's best known modern writers. He wrote several books including Diary of a Madman and Medicine. He was born in Shaoxing, and left here to study abroad. He eventually returned to China, was forced to hide in Shanghai when the Kuomintang determined that his books were unsuitable. H eventually died in Shanghai.

Along Lu Xun Walk is his former residence, a memorial hall, and his former school. We did not go into the exhibits but strolled the street looking at the shops, and scenery. We found a restaurant along the walk and dined there. Much to the amusement of the passing traffic. We had a great meal there, and found the staff spoke English and the menu was in English too.

Later we went in a Shaoxing boat. A rather hilarious journey (overspriced) along a small stretch of canal, where I had to "duck" frequently as the boat went under low bridges and I might have been 'beheaded' if I had kept my head up. It made for a lot of laughs.

We bought a few things. Sue looks great in her new Shaoxing hat - the black heavy felt cap the older men wear during winter. Looks great on her.

We left the Lu Xun area, wandered around the old markets and eventually ended up at a restaurant called Brigadoon. Now the names of some places in China are completedly strange. I had never been before, but it was quite a nice little restaurant. English was spoken a little. We discovered they make great cocktails, so we will visit on another occasion.

Save the crowds it was a good day.

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