Tag: National Holiday

Nanjing or why not to travel in China during National Holidays

Nanjing or why not to travel in China during National Holidays

Today is Labor Day in China. As May 1 falls on a Tuesday this year, the office was closed Monday which meant that Saturday was an official working day. I have to say I’m not a fan of the 6 day work week … but definitely a fan of the 3 day weekend 🙂

To take advantage of the extra day we’d planned to spend 2 days in Nanjing and then relax at home (read: do laundry) on the holiday. The fastest train was sold out but we managed to get there in less than 1 1/2 hours. Gotta love train travel in China.

We didn’t do as much as I had wanted to because it was a little too hot, too crowded and the air was quite polluted. This is what we managed:

Nanjing Massacre Museum

Sunday morning we headed to the Nanjing Massacre Museum, or the “Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders” as it is officially called. Just walking inside and seeing the sculptures is really depressing but I’d still recommend going. The exhibition inside is very well done, with lots of pictures, artifacts, information and videos.

Fuzimiao or Confucius Temple area

Next, we headed to Fuzimiao, the pretty area around the Confucius Temple. There are lots of shops, mostly tourist traps, and because of the holiday it was really busy. From the pictures I saw it looks beautiful at night all lit up but we didn’t manage to go back when it was dark.

1912

For dinner we headed to 1912, a little walking district with lots and lots of bars and restaurants. There are many western places but we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant and tried a local specialty: Nanjing Salted Duck.

Purple Mountains

Trying to avoid the crowds a little we got up early on Monday and went straight to the Purple Mountains. Looks like everyone else had the same idea and when we got to the Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum a little after 9 it was already very very busy.

Thorben said that when he went to the Purple Mountains during a business trip a few years ago it was a really nice peaceful place. To get some room to breathe and escape the picture taking (not many foreigners in Nanjing), we decided to skip the main sights and exlore the smaller walking trails. This worked pretty well and we didn’t see too many people after that.

After a quick shower at the hotel we decided not to head back into town for the afternoon but take an earlier train home. The heat and bad air quality combined with the huge crowds and long queues everywhere kind of killed our sightseeing mood. And our air conditioned and air filtered apartment just sounded way better 🙂

Overall, Nanjing is a nice place with lots of great things to see – but like many people said, it’s best to avoid public holidays. From now on I’ll just keep doing what we did before – leave China when there’s a public holiday (or hide at home).

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

In China, everyone is getting ready for Spring Festival or Chinese New Year. From what I understand it’s the most important holiday here, typically celebrated with family. The celebrations start on New Year’s Eve with a family dinner and fireworks at midnight. Then, every day has different meanings and traditions. My coworker told me the noisiest day is when the God of Wealth is celebrated because everyone wants to make sure they get money by lighting fireworks.

When the new year starts is determined by the lunar calendar, so it’s a bit different every year. Last year it was at the end of January and this year the new year starts February 16. Every year has a zodiac animal assigned to it, there are 12 of them: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Right now we are still in the year of the rooster. From all the decorations it’s hard to miss what will be next.

Fun fact: It’s bad luck when it’s your zodiac year. To avoid this bad luck, all dogs (people born in 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970 …) should wear something red all year, for example red underwear.

Only the first 3 days of the new year are National Holidays but according to the government working day calendar companies close for 7 days: From the day before the New Year to the 6th day of the New Year. 3 days are holiday, 2 days are from the weekend and the remaining 2 days have to be made up by working the Sunday before and the Saturday after the festival.

The traditional gift people give each other are are hóngbāos: red envelopes or red packets with money in them. Even WeChat has a red packet function.

According to my colleague, red packets are given from the older to the younger generation and it’s really only for children. Looks like I won’t get any presents then.