Steve's China Blog

Monday, May 05, 2008

May holiday

This last weekend was a holiday weekend. The first of May use to be called May Day, but now it's called Labor Day. Before this year the holiday was usually three days long and most people would take off seven days and work during the previous Saturday and the next Sunday, but now the holiday is just one day. We took off the following day (Friday) and worked on the following Sunday.

The reason given for the change from three days to one day was that a lot of people travelled during this time and it was a major strain on the transportation system here in China. Most people here like to travel by train, but the government (which owns the railway system here) would much rather transport coal, oil, cement, etc... than transport people. Another reason this holiday was changed was that, as China moves away from being a communist country and moves toward being a nationalist socialist country, it doesn't make sense to have such a big communist holiday.

In exchange for reducing the length of the Labor Day holiday the government has re-introduced older traditional Chinese national holidays, some of which were done away with under the old communist regime. So now we have Chinese New Year and National Day as week long holidays; and Qing Ming Festival, Labor Day, Dragon Boat Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival as single day holidays. The fact that the new holidays probably help raise nationalistic feelings among the population was probably a consideration also.

Anyways, I had an enjoyable weekend. I spent Thursday playing on the computer, doing some reading, eating too much, laying about, and watched the 6th episode of John Adams. I also learned that Phyllis has moved back to ChengDu from Shenzhen... That made me very happy since I had not seen her since my return from Hong Kong back in January when she was in ChengDu visiting her family.

Reese came over on Friday morning to continue with my Chinese tutoring. I have been neglecting my Chinese studies, more than usual I should say. It was hard to get back into it, especially since my mind was more on lunch than on my Chinese lessons. For lunch I wanted to go visit this place called Liao's Bon Bon Chicken that is nearby my apartment. Liao's is take-out only and they had a lot more than chicken. I wanted to try a variety of things, so we ordered a chicken dish, a pork dish, a beef dish, a rabbit dish, and a tofu dish. We took it back to my apartment and tried a little bit of everything. It was pretty good! Now I have lots of good leftovers.

After lunch we went to a park called Du Fu's Thatched Cottage. You can read the description of the park and of the poet Du Fu at the link, and even see some pictures (yeah, I forgot my camera). It was a very nice park. Lots of trees, bamboo, shade, birds, some nice streams, pretty old-style buildings, etc... It was also a nice place to visit to get away from the noise and busy pace of the city. Phyllis and her sister were going to join us but her belongings, which she had shipped from Shenzhen, arrived that morning so they spent the afternoon unpacking her things.

In the evening we went to Wanda Plaza and met with Phyllis to have dinner at Papa John's. We had dinner and then walked around to look in some of the clothing stores and chatted a lot. I lost complete track of time and realized that it was after 10:00pm and too late for Reese to catch a bus home, so we found a taxi that would driver home. Since Phyllis lives close by to where I live, she and I found a taxi that would take her to her apartment and then take me to mine. A busy, but very enjoyable day.

Satruday was spent pretty much as Thursday was spent... playing on the computer, doing some reading, eating too much, and laying about being lazy. Sunday was a work day but I worked from home. It was not a very busy work day since most of my team (who are in Australia) and our customers did not work that day. After work I watched the 7th and final episode of John Adams. Good series. Today I am back at the office, but it is another holiday... Happy Cinco de Mayo! I think I'll go to Peter's Tex-Mex Grill for some enchiladas tonight.


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