Monday, 4 May 2009

Labour Day -- A Trip to the Zoo

The first of May -- like so many other countries -- is labour day in China. The national holidays are perfect times to travel and see new parts of China, the only problem is that everybody else has the same idea too. When you have a country with more than a billion people occupying it, this can be a problem.

When I came to China on holiday in 2007 I landed in Shanghai on the 1st of May (when the holiday was still 7 days). It was a shock to the senses seeing so many people in one place. I can remember walking along The Bund with my friend, Richard only to get mobbed by a group of people wanting to take our picture:

We were stuck against a wall at this point

Last year I was in Hong Kong for the May holiday, waiting nervously to apply for my working visa. There had been rumours circulating that Hong Kong wasn't giving the visas due to restrictions for the Olympics. Luckily for me I did receive my visa in the end, but it was slightly nerve-racking waiting in the office for 3 hours to find out if I'd been successful or not. My short trip in Hong Kong was much more civilized than the year before, and I even managed to meet up with two good friends, Mona and Mabel.

This year I stayed in Wenzhou. Kimi and I, with Johann and his girlfriend decided to take a walk up Wenzhou's Snow Mountain (which I'm quite sure never has any snow). We took a pleasant walk around a garden area, a large and very new Buddhist temple, and then the zoo. I was a bit wary about visiting the zoo because I imagined the conditions might not be up to much. I was proven wrong in most cases, it was very well maintained and most of the animals had good environments to live in. I was only disappointed at the amount of rubbish people had thrown into their habitats to try and get the animals to do something.

As predicted there were tonnes of people crammed into every crevasse and corner, most of them from Wenzhou, but I guessed that a lot of them had come from the outskirts of the city. I say this because throughout the day at every minute I was hearing the word "foreigner" spoken, many people were stunned to see us. I heard the word in the only three variations I know: "Laowai" (informal Chinese), "Waiguoren" (Chinese), and "Vaiganen" (Wenzhou Dialect, I have no idea how to spell it in Pinyin). I've always found it funny why strangers in the street will just shout out the word "foreigner"if they see one, what compels them to say it out loud rather than in their mind?

The day was long, tiring, but hugely enjoyable. It was also good to see another side of Wenzhou than the usual cars, drilling, and general chaos that is prevalent in the city centre. Surprisingly, a lot of what we saw was actually very beautiful. Here is the day in pictures:

Happy Labour Day!


Sunny Sweet Pea said...

These pictures are lovely especially the baby monkey one :)

Hang said...

Nice pictures. Those animals are cute. Ha,ha...

apple said...

In fact, there are other variations for the word foreigner, like "yangren (洋人)",or "yangguizi(洋鬼子)", the second term is used in a joking way.

Chris said...

Thank you for the nice comments :O)

Apple, I didn't know those two words, I will try and remember them. Thank you!

大眼睛熊 said...

It was a nice trip, tiring but nice! I like the zoo and all the lovely animals living there although they might wanna get some more fresh air sometime, hope they had a good time as well!

mabelp said...

Hi Chris! The animals in this zoo are lovely!

Hey! I haven't seen you for 1 year? Time files very fast! Last time, your HK trip was too short, hope your next HK trip would be longer.

"Richard only to get mobbed by a group of people wanting to take our picture"? Wow! I thought it won't be happened in Shanghai! Hhaha!

Chris said...

Kimi, I'm glad you liked the zoo too. I hope we can go again soon!! I was quite surprised at how fresh the air seemed to be in that part of the city, I think all of the trees are working extra hard.

Mabel, I know, I can't believe it's been a year too. The time is flying so incredibly fast. It only feels like I was in HK a few months ago.

I had no idea it would be like that in Shanghai but I think it was because all of those people in the picture weren't from the city. It was May 1st so I guess they had come from all over China and maybe hadn't seen a foreigner before.