China Travel hit the streets of Shanghai recently to find out what Chinese folks from all walks of life are planning for the upcoming National Holiday. The answers pretty much stuck to class lines all the way; those with the ability to travel were eager to leave Asia, but for those who have to work through the holiday, going home was by far the most common desire.
"I have to work through the holiday, so I'm not going anywhere," said Lao Ma from Fuyang, Anhui Province. "I'm a street cleaner, so if I go, what happens to the streets? They remain dirty, right?"
So you don't have any holiday at all?
"I have one day a week to rest. That's enough for me."
But if you could go anywhere, where would you go?
"Anywhere? Why home of course. Go see the old and the young and see what they're up to. Eat my hometown food. Sleep. Hahahaha!"
Another member of the city clean-up force, Lao Zhou from Hubei, drew a blank when asked if there were some wonderful location he would go to if he had the chance. The only place he could think of was back home to Xiangfan. Lao Zhou has been in Shanghai for two years and so far he hasn't had the chance to go back and visit relatives in Hubei. He also works six days a week, collecting garbage from the stores and restaurants in Xintiandi.
"Home, that's it," he managed to grunt out before he hustled off to collect a few more bags from the Starbucks outlet. For others, home is the last place they want to be. Sam Pun and Yvonne Ma, from Hong Kong, are here to visit the Shanghai Expo and check out the sights and sounds of Shanghai. For them the October holiday is a chance to get out of Asia and spend some time in another culture.
"I guess my first choice would be Florence," said Sam."
"Yeah me too," Yvonne chimed in. "Europe is multicultural and I think a week is long enough to see most of the city out there."
For local Shanghainese, the chance to sleep is something hard to pass up. When I stopped and spoke to Frank Zhou and Sherry Lu of S&M Management, they laughed out loud at the thought of travel and simultaneously cried out for sleep.You can sleep when you're dead. Really, if you had the chance to go anywhere, where would you go?
"Europe, I guess," said Frank.
"Switzerland," piped Sherry. "That's where I would go."
"Yeah ..." mused Frank. "Switzerland sounds nice."
What about some other place in Asia like Thailand or India?
"India!? No way. India sucks."
Three businessmen smoking in the sun had little to say when asked if they had plans for the holidays. All three were basically waiting for their wives to exert enough pressure on them to go somewhere nice. They were just happy to have a few days off. Mr. Zhang, from Shanghai, is going with his wife back to her hometown of Wuhan.
What are you going to do in Wuhan?
Eat? Party? Sightsee?
"Probably just hang out with her family. Eat. I am not sure what Wuhan has to offer and we are basically going there to see her parents anyway ...."
What about you two?
"I'm not going anywhere," said Mr. Wang, from Shanghai.
What if you could go anywhere you wanted.
"Grunt," he grunted. "I'm not going anywhere."
What about you, Mr. Zhao, what if you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?
"No clue," said the Shandong native. "Maldives I guess. My wife wants to go to the Maldives." (We all laugh)
The Maldives seemed like a very popular destination. Three travelers from Guangdong, Huang Zhi Ming, Vanessa Qiu and Sugar Su, also spoke reverently of the Maldives.
Why the Maldives?
"Because they are going to under the sea soon,' explained Sugar. "We have to go and see them before they're gone."
"Yeah," said Vanessa. "And I am planning a trip to Hokkaido. I have been to Japan before, but I want to go again to see Hokkaido. Japan isn't going to be underwater as soon as the Maldives, but you never know."
You're right, could happen any day now.
"That's right, so I want to go there and learn about their culture—sooner rather than later."
Shanghai native Jenny Tan has her National Holiday all planned out—she's getting married the first of October and is spending the rest of the week accepting red envelopes stuffed with cash and helping her husband get out of drinking contests with Uncle Tan the Drunkard. Afterwards, maybe sometime in November, they might take their honeymoon in Thailand.
Her friend Joyce Gui, also local, is already married with a two year old daughter, so she and her husband are hightailing it for Switzerland and Sweden for a two-week vacation from China. Her parents will take care of the little one while she is gone.
Will your daughter miss you when you're away?
"Probably, but she'll be fine."
She likes your mom?
"Oh yeah. More than me, it seems!
Another Anhui transplant, Zhao Na, is a manager at a local coffee house that never stops buzzing. There is no chance of a vacation for her, as long as the tourists and locals keep stopping in for joe and cakes.
You're pretty important, huh?
"Home of course. I miss Hefei. But it's nice here too. The weather is better and I have something to do. But a trip would be nice ..."
Her colleague, Kang Kang from Jiangsu, also has little chance of seeing more than a few hours of vacation.
"I suppose if it got really, really slow, they might let us off for a few days. But that's not going to happen."
So how much down time do you have?
"If its slow, they let us go early. That's about it."
The Chen family brought their daughter to Shanghai to check out the Expo package deal booked through Ctrip that includes flights and tickets to the Expo for one day. They too, mentioned the Maldives as a dream destination, but their five-year-old daughter had other ideas.
If you guys could go anywhere where would you go?
"Well," began Mrs. Chen. "I have colleagues that went to the Maldives ..."
"Shanghai," yelled their daughter, Chen Ying Shi.
But sweetie, you're in Shanghai now. If you could go anywhere else, where would you go?
We tried to coax her with special words like "Europe" and "island," all to no avail.
"Shanghai!" Are you sure you don't want to ...