Yesterday, Saturday, was a rare federal holiday in China. That meant most factories gave the day off. It’s thrilling to have an actual two-day weekend.
The holiday, loosely translated, is tomb sweeping festival, a day to remember the dead. (Yes, a festival). In the USA, we celebrate Memorial Day, to honor those who died protecting the country. The memorial holiday/festival in China is for all the dead, especially those in your family lineage.
Any day off in China means that families, or groups en masse, are on the move, either to their home villages (if within reasonable reach), or to a park (or graveyard). A group of us from the factory decided to go to the nearby city of Changshu, about an hour drive. The mission was to walk up a small mountain which has an easy incline from the base park at the city center, climbing 5-6 kilometers to the top to a national site, called Yushan Scenic Spot. The destination was an old Buddhist temple and, if it weren’t for the fog, a beautiful 360 degree view of the surrounding area.
Fortunately, even though the forecast was rain, the showers held off during the day allowing us, and thousands of others, to hike the hill. There were so many people walking the snaking hill road that it seemed like an endless procession up and down. With the crowd of people, it was still pleasant enough, with trees and tea fields, being out in nature. The one exception was the city busses that run this route for those who don’t care to walk. If it’s one thing most Chinese apparently don’t mind, it’s loud noise. Many talk like others are half deaf, set off loud fire crackers for any occasion (almost anywhere), and liberally honk high-decibel vehicle horns. Hence, the walk up and down the mountain was accompanied by the constant blaring of piercing bus horns. Ear plugs would have been a smart addition to the light rain jacket I was carrying.
All in all, it was great fun. Any activity which adds 20,000 steps (iPhone app) with easy vertical climb, nice scenery and fresh air, is a welcome diversion. It was certainly a pleasant respite to Saturday in the office.