The best China travel stories from around the net

by James Weir
Posted: October 10th, 2012 | Updated: October 17th, 2012 | Comments
And we're back! That's right, Golden Week is over. The glorious week of Government-mandated vacation, mooncakes and strained transportation infrastructure has come to an end. And on this sunny Wednesday in Shanghai, things here at the Ctrip office are grinding back to full speed, rust falling from the gears, after two days of bleary-eyed denial ("The use of the word 'week' in Golden Week was more of a suggestion, right?"). So we begin! As old China hands are sure to remind the recently-arrived and doe-eyed among us, traveling within China during any of the national holidays can be a bit of a drag. As a result, many a local and expat head outside the country to get their rest and relaxation (which can cause problems of its own). But not everyone can just hop on a plane and skedaddle, and are therefore confined to taking their curiosity to China's wide array of attractions. One problem: there just isn't enough space, or attractions, for China's fun-seekers. In fact, the overcrowding at attractions over the October holiday was so severe that the Forbidden City in one day. One day, 18 million people. There is no possible way that is correct. But whatever the numbers actually were, we can all agree that there were a lot of people sightseeing last week. A whole lot. More crazy national holiday tales after the jump....
  •  Let's start off by looking at some of these Badaling section of the Great Wall on 3 October 2012, which is terrifyingly high but believable. The second fact is likely the real number of visitors that toured the Forbidden City in one day: 182,000. Slide the decimal around and you're got your 18 million that the Global Times quoted. Mystery solved. Still, 182,000 people on a section of wall that's only about four people wide sounds like a less-than-relaxing way to spend a day off.
  • Still not sufficiently traumatized to plan your next vacation overseas? Ok, let's try this. Tea Leaf Nation has Hua Shan, in Shaanxi. It is harrowing. There are also these photos.
  • Man, that stuff is no joke. I think we need some greener pastures. Let's try this photo set of changes in China over the last 20 years. See if that can cleanse your frontal lobe a bit. My favorite? I like the one that contrasts the train of old belching thick black clouds of smoke and the sleek, shiny bullet trains of today's China.
  • Next in line for cleansing photos comes a wonderful Great Wall. Very refreshing, like going swimming in Bali, maybe. These photos are a great reminder of why we travel in China in the first place: oozing history, the Wall is equal parts mystifying and beautiful.
  • And finally, let's finish with a triumph. This victory over discomfort is heartening. Traveling via hard-seat over the holidays sounds daunting, and it's good to know that all hope is not lost: you might even get upgraded.

So remember folks: things can get a little dicey over the holidays! Don't forget to take that into consideration the next time you plan a China vacation. Until next time, hold your hat and lean into the wind.

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