National Day Holiday

Trip Start Feb 27, 2013
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of China  , Beijing,
Sunday, October 6, 2013

In Australia, I always thought Australia Day was a pretty big event.  We get a day off, and we are encouraged to have barbeques, eat lamb, wear thongs, or do whatever makes us feel particularly Australian.  I guess, though, that this puts Melbourne Cup in a similar category, because we also get a day off and are encouraged to dress up and eat together.  In China, there is no fear of their National Day being dismissed as just another day off.  They get the entire first week of October off, which certainly makes it very memorable.  During Spring Festival, which is when Chinese New Year is held, two weeks are provided as public holiday, but most people are expected to return to their birth province to spend time with their extended family.  National Day Holiday, however, there is no such expectation, so this is peak travel time for Chinese.  After having spoken to many of my Chinese friends, I was persuaded to mainly stay inside Beijing, for the week, instead of travelling.  Imagine tens of millions of people travelling at the same time: welcome to National Day Holiday.  It is the worst time to travel for this reason, so, as to avoid the over crowded planes, trains and highways, and over expensive hotels my friends and I decided to spend the week relaxing around the city.
I really felt like a local during the week as I walked around the city, muttering to my friends about the annoying 'tourists', conveniently dodging the fact that I, too, was a foreigner in this town.  It was pretty obvious the influx of people into the city.  My friend took half an hour to walk a less than 50 metre underpass on one day, and in the subway, any lingering personal space issues I may have felt before were well and truly extinct.
The week started off by going to just about the only bar in Beijing that showed the AFL grand final.  All five TVs in the bar were tuned to the Australia Channel, and Australians overtook the bar to watch the all-important final.  I took my Uruguayan roommate, Pia, so she could experience a taste of Australian culture, and we were there with Ian and Emily Knowles.  Ian is a Hawthorn supporter, so he was happy on the day, but I think the majority of the bar was supporting Fremantle, as the atmosphere was best in the third quarter when things were tight.  I had been to 3 of the past 4 grand finals live back home since 2010, so it was certainly very different watching it in a bar, in Beijing of all places. 
During the week, I also visited a hutong that a friend lives in.  She lives pretty close to the famous Lama Temple, so we walked there after lunch.  I have been to the Lama Temple earlier in the year, but walking around in the warmer temperatures was much more pleasant.  There were a lot of people there; an interesting mixture of tourists taking pictures of the ancient architecture, Buddhists who were actively practicing their religion, and people who were somewhere in between.  They were the people who bought incense and prayed while their friend took pictures, likely to post on Instagram or Facebook (#spiritual).
 The Lama Temple holds a world record for the largest statue carved out of a single piece of wood. The statue, one of Buddha, is about four storeys high. After being originally built in 1694, during the Qing Dynasty, it is really nice to see that it is still being used.
The rest of the week was spent catching up with friends, having long dinners, studying and sleeping in. It was a really nice week, and it was nice to see friends and not have to worry about any homework due the next day.
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Comments

Joan Jay on

So pleased you enjoyed your relaxing week off. Your mum and I hope to do the same when we see you - the long dinners sound particularly attractive. Take care - see you soon...love nanna

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