So it’s “Golden Week” in China, the week of National Day. Actually, today is National Day itself, October 1st, the day that Chairman Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic of China an independent and sovereign nation. Today China celebrates it’s 58th birthday and Chinese around the country celebrate by taking off and heading out on vacation to places like Lijiang, Xishuangbanna, Hainan, or for the more adventurous, even Tibet.
However, not us, not this year. Since I’m due in about two weeks, we’re grounded this National Day, and I have to admit a bit of jealousy knowing that half the country is off having fun, while I’m sitting at home all day, mostly in front of the computer, doing pretty much nothing.
Of course, National Day travel has it’s drawbacks. When an entire country the size of China takes it’s annual vacation all at the same time, you can probably imagine the sort of chaos that usually ensues. Successfully buying bus, train, or plane tickets becomes a feat akin to winning the lottery and often you stumble into your destination at some ungodly hour, say 3 or 4am, and find that there is not a single guesthouse, hostel, hotel or inn that has free beds. You wander around the streets aimlessly until daybreak and camp out somewhere waiting for the room that the staff “promises” will be ready at 9 but doesn’t materialize until 10. The room, inevitably, contains two single beds with hard mattresses, a dirty bathroom with on again off again hot water, and some insects, and yet, because it’s National Day holiday, this room will cost you roughly 10x what the normal going rate should be. However, by then, you’re so tired that you don’t care, and fall into bed and spend your first entire day of “vacation” sleeping off the 12 hour bus ride/5 hour search for accommodations in a mediocre yet overpriced hotel room.
Come to think of it, spending this week indoors is not really such a bad idea after all. And, simply because we’re rebellious like that, my husband and I have already planned our next travels for the time of year when most Chinese generally DO stay put indoors — Chinese New Year! So, until January, I’ll have to tame my travel bug. Of course, in a few short weeks we’ll have a newborn to contend with, and travelling will probably be the last thing on our minds. But, for now, looking out my window at the crisp Fall sunshine, I can’t help but feel a pang of regret that we can’t take off and join the hordes in enjoying it.