Last week was golden week in China. This is the first week in October that most people in China have off work and celebrate by travelling with their family. Coming into this job, I was expecting to have this whole week off. If you didn’t realize by any of my previous posts, I really don’t like my job. To add fuel to my “hate my job” fire, they only gave me one day off. (Overall, I had three days off, but two of those were more normal days off, so it wasn’t anything special)
I was originially planning on travelling this week to one of my gazillion of places I want to go around China, but those plans got deterred. (It ended up being for the better in the long run, but sometimes you have to complain). Going anywhere in China this week would have been insane. First of all, the prices were double everywhere, and also, EVERYONE IN CHINA is travelling this week, so everywhere you want to go would have been packed. China packed…which is really really packed. I heard that Shanghai sort of thins out over the holiday, but the opposite was true. Yes, maybe a quarter of the people left the city, but the remaining people had their entire families here to visit. I ended up staying pretty low key this weekend, (besides moving into a new apartment which I can tell you about later) so it was nice to dodge the bullet of a packed Shanghai.
On the last night of my “vacation”, I did make it out to Century Park to see a fireworks show. All week there were special events throughout town (that were always happening during my work hours). There were a few nights of fireworks and I was happy to be able to make it to one of the last nights. It was hard to find information (in English) about the fireworks online. I heard they were at Century park at 7:30 and it costs 70rmb for a standing ticket or 230something rmb for seats. That’s a little expensive for things in China, but I absolutely love fireworks so I didn’t care. And because I didn’t spend much more than that on the vacation I missed out on, I thought I could easily treat myself.
I headed over on the metro (by myself because all my other friends here actually did have a 7 day vacation outside of the city). When I walked out of the metro exit, I was bombarded with people. I sort of expected it, but it’s never easy to get used to that many people surrounding you. Everyone was selling glow sticks, lighting up bow headbands, and swords. You would think these were meant for the kids, but there were probably more adults with these toys than the little tikes.
Because there were so many people, you couldn’t really tell where to go. I thought I would follow the leader to the ticket booth, but I soon realized that there was nowhere to go. Everyone was just crowding around in the streets and looking up, instead of actually going into the park. It turned out to be pretty perfect. Obviously you can see fireworks from blocks away from where they’re being shot off. Luckily for me, I found a nice spot to myself leaning against a lampost with a clear view of the sky.
These fireworks were amazing. It made the crazy crowds seem worth it. They lasted for a complete hour and were consistently going off. It seemed like the whole show was equivalent to the “grand finale” back home. There was no grand finale here…they were just going off like crazy the whole time.
It’s hard to time photos of fireworks so I took the video above. Give it 10 seconds and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
After about 50 minutes of fireworkds, I was getting a little bored and tired of standing. (And tired of smelling the lovely smell of that many people together). I decided to navigate through the crowds a few minutes early to try to beat the metro rush. I didn’t make my move early enough because the show stopped about 2 seconds after I made it to the metro stop. Hundreds of people were beind me and almost as many were already in front. This was another situation where you have to “mentally prepare” yourself for the next 20 minutes or else you’ll panic. (In most “rush hour” cases like this, I would just take a cab instead, but I knew it would impossible to get one on a night like this.)
This is the line to swipe your card to get on the metro. You then proceed down the stairs and onto the train…where the same amount of people are located. People push and shove you onto the car, but overall, it’s pretty civil. As civil as sardines can be….
After finally settling into the train, barely being able to breathe, and holding my backpack close to my chest, I look straight ahead and see the faces of two fellow American guys. We all just look at each other and laugh because we were all a good head and half taller than everyone else in the car. They said, “Welcome to China” and we were just shaking our heads. All you can do is laugh at this point. Luckily I only had to be on that car for one stop before changing trains, so I said goodbye to my fellow giants and proceeded home.