Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chinese New Year Exodus

The Chinese New Year Exodus has already started in mainland China based on TV news. The festival doesn't affect college students since they won't be back from the winter holidays until after the Spring Festival but for working people, the occasion is usually, at least, a seven day stretch. Tickets have to be booked way, way in advance.

Never, ever travel during the Spring Festival! Train and bus stations can be very chaotic. I made the mistake of going to Guilin during one such Spring Festival. I was practically carried up the carriage by the rushing crowd and almost suffocated during the journey.

At the same time, petty businessmen take advantage of the holiday to jack up the prices. At one restaurant, we paid through our head for a meal that wasn't one tenth its worth. But we were forced to patronize the place in order to be eligible to buy our boat tickets. Clearly, it was a syndicate in operation, aimed at ripping off tourists, foreigners and locals without exception.

These days, with affluence, the Chinese prefer to go abroad for their holidays during this season rather than battle a human sea.

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