May 1st: International Labor Day in China


Yes.. it is time for yet another holiday in China , International Labor Day.   On this holiday, there are no special foods to be eaten and no special clothes to be worn.  There are no special songs to sing or special traditions you must do.   This is just the day for workers to have free time.   Three days of travel, rest and personal enjoyment.

This also happens to fall on the first day of the Shanghai Expo. Unfortunately, I will not be attending the Expo at this time, because it is the first day and the busiest time.   I am thinking that fighting 70 million people on my holiday is not something I want to do.

What are my plans?  Well. my husband has been on a business trip for the last week and will be finally arriving home on this friday so I am thinking some quiet time together would be nice.  I am planning a nice outing in the countryside, and maybe look at some old traditional buildings and some beautiful scenery.  This is what I call a relaxing holiday.

Back to Labor Day, many workers will have an extend  weekend, which can translate into millions of Chinese traveling domestically and internationally.  Of Course, the travel fares are double and triple and advance bookings must be made weeks, even months ahead for international travel. Hoards of tour groups flock to the  major tourist destinations of China, so you can forget having a quite moment to yourself.

As with every holiday, the people will be out and about.  I try to keep away from too many small cities because these workers usually have never seen foreigners so they tend to point, stare and laugh rudely when they see us.   I know now what it feels like to be a superstar.

Last year at this time, I went out to the city center to enjoy the sunshine and that enjoyment quickly turned to disappointment.   After, a brief 10 minutes the attention quickly turned to me and my African friend and a large crowd of people started to surround us as we sat on the park bench sunning ourselves.  Not only were people pointing and laughing at us.. .. they were trying to push their children close to us so they could get photos with the foreigners.   After awhile, we became very irritated with the situation, because the circle of people came closer and closer to us.   We finally stood up and tried to walk away… when we did the entire crowd of people started to follow us.   My African friend became panicky and told me she was afraid and she wanted them to leave us alone.   She took off running down the sidewalk.   I pushed my way thru the people to try to get to her… when I heard someone calling my name,  It was one of my students coming to rescue me.  He grabbed my arm and pulled me thru the crowd of people.   When we were a safe distance away, he said to me… you should never go out alone during a holiday.  I thought to myself…. yeah, you have a point.

After that experience, my husband informed me that I was never to go out alone on a holiday and that he would be with me when we travelled.  I am not thinking that they would have hurt me in any way.. but they all wanted to touch me, look at me and take photos of me. It was more irritating than anything else.

So… that being said… we will be far away from prying eyes.. and spend quality time together in the countryside.

until next time….

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11 thoughts on “May 1st: International Labor Day in China

  1. Kay

    Stumble upon your blog and find your articles interesting, esp the ‘battles’ between you and China!

    Sounds like scary crowds of people will flood China hot spots during this May period. What are the options I have when I travel to southern China this year during this period? Where can I get smaller crowd?

    1. First of all .. There is no small crowd in China… with over 3 billion people. However.. i would suggest you visit Suzhou, Hangzhou, Putosan island and some of the towns outside Shanghai, in Zheijiang province… or the outskirts of Guanzhou.

  2. kafi

    i can’t believe they would laugh at you & your friend.that’s just unnecessary & plain rude. or were they giggling shyly??cuz that happened to a white friend of mine while we were in Mussoorie(a small hilly town in India)….a group of men and 2 women giggling and very shyly came up to my “gori”(white) friend while she was waiting outside a shop for me and without even asking her or saying anything, they stood next to her smiling and giggling while a friend started taking pictures..lol….my friend freaked out and ran inside the shop and told me about it..when we went out, the group was still there…when they saw me, they backed off. but it was not like they had bad intentions….more like they’ve prolly never seen a white person ever in their lives(coming from remote areas) so they were all excited to take a picture with her to show off to their friends and family back home…lol.

    1. Actually, some were shy about it .. but most are very rude about it. In their defense they do not know that pointing, laughing and staring at people is rude… (i am told) but.. I cant believe that .. if one chinese pointed and laughed at another chinese person.. they wouldnt also feel it is rude but that is my opinion. Thank you so much for reading my website and keeping coming back.. I always have something to say.. (smile)

  3. I’m glad you have a nice, quiet break planned — spending quality time in the countryside sounds like something I would be doing, if I were in China during the break.

    How nice that one of your students helped you out during that difficult moment in the crowd! You are indeed also blessed with a fantastic husband. Enjoy the May holiday!

  4. Ruth

    What are the dates for the actual holiday? This sounds a lot like what the Japanese call Golden Week which is the first week in May with the first 3 days being very important.

    Anyhow all of that attention seems very overwhelming. Good luck during the holiday this year.

  5. pearls

    Looks like foreigners have their own paparazzi, indeed! That’s a blessing how one of your student’s came to your aid, leading you to a safe distance. It appears that your foundation of courage and strength has influenced one of your students (young people can pick up on more than what’s visible). In addition to that, your husband is a wonderful covering for you. He knows his presence will be a deterent to that rude foolishness!

    Wow! To your three days off…CHEERS!

    1. Yes .. my students are wonderful… they are always wanting to help me or bring me gifts. My husband well .. a godsend.. I dont know what I did without him… I have learned that the more educated the person, the better they act around foreigners even if they have never met one.

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