Monday, October 01, 2007

China National Day

Today marks the 58th anniversary of the official foundation of the modern People's Republic of China - and also the beginning of the 7-day 'golden week' national holiday with which the event has been celebrated for the last several years. That's right: everyone in the entire country goes on holiday for the whole week. Can you imagine how chaotic that is? Can you??

'Golden Week' is a righteous pain-in-the-arse because: a) Beijing is full of tourists; b) all your favourite restaurants close down for a random day or three at some point during this week, leaving you to fall back on the dubious resources of your own culinary ability; and c) everyone with any money goes on holiday somewhere (and in recent years, this has more and more included any moderately affluent Chinese, not just us overpaid laowai), so travel fares become outrageously inflated and available seats hard to come by (not that you'd want to go anywhere inside China anyway, since anywhere of any tourist interest at all is absolutely crammed with Chinese trippers - not pleasant).

For those of us too poor to escape overseas somewhere for the week (and that in itself is one of the special downers of this week: the fact that it provides such a vivid reminder of who are the haves and the have-nots in expat society here), we are stuck in Beijing..... trying to avoid going out as far as is possible, hunkered down at home with the DVD collection.

One of the few things worth taking a look at is the dawn flag-raising ceremony down on Tiananmen Square in the centre of the city. Now, this happens every day of the year (well, not sure about June 4th...... but pretty much every day of the year), but on the major national holidays it draws crowds of onlookers in the tens of thousands.

I've seen it several times since I've been here, twice on October 1st. I considered going again this morning, but..... well, sleep was a higher priority..... and it was pissing down with rain.

I did dig up this video of the event on YouTube instead. This was supposedly taped at some point in October last year, but given the absence of teeming crowds, I deduce that it was not on the 1st. However, this film does benefit from a full and surprisingly clear rendition of China's (rather long-winded) national anthem, from a pretty blue sky, and from there being sufficient wind to spread the flag out (all the times I've witnessed the ceremony have been so breezeless you just couldn't tell when the flag was up!).

So, enjoy. And consider, this is the highlight of our week here in Beijing. Pity us.


Froog said...

Ah, OK, that was a pretty big crowd. I hadn't watched it all the way through when I first found it on YouTube; and I'd been assuming that people wouldn't have been able to get that close to film it if there had been a huge throng around the Square. Maybe that really was Oct. 1st 2006.

moonrat said...

aww, you'll have fun. i know you will.

if it seems like you're not, just have another beer.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting and educational. Thanks!

Froog said...

Yes, indeed: the next time you're taking part in a trivia quiz in a bar, OMG, that's one more national anthem you might have a chance of recognising, should it ever come up in the Music Round.

And if they also have a Military Uniforms of the World Round - well, you're laughing!

Anonymous said...

No, not laughing. My brother runs trivia night in his bar. That's just the kind of off-the-wall question he'd ask.