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:
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!