At the start of this video, the man behind the camera says, "Just like Chinese people, to fight over pictures."
But just over pictures? Or is this an expression of a deeper discontent, a deformity of neither behavior nor genetics but something more fundamental and universal?
We're going to borrow Alia of Offbeat China's word for the crowds during National Day holiday -- "tourpocalypse" -- because these pictures make us judder, indeed as if the ground will swallow us, no longer able to hold the weight of all this humanity.
These are the sort of National Day occurrences that will ruin your vacation. At the super popular tourist destination of Jiuzhaigou (Jiuzhai Valley National Park) in Sichuan province on Thursday, 4,000 tourists were stranded until after-hours as authorities scrambled to supply enough vehicles to take everyone to base.
We have some good news and bad news. First, the bad: from September 30 to October 7, called "Golden Week" because everyone is on national holiday, accidents on the road in China "killed altogether 794 people and led to direct economic losses worth 13.25 million yuan (2.1 million U.S. dollars)," according to Xinhua.
We've seen plenty of truck explosions in our time, as recently as last Wednesday. When they involve tankers of the LPG variety, bad results usually ensue. Take note: the accident in August that killed 36 in Shanxi; an oil tanker crash in June that left a city in smoke; a fiery death at the rear of a liquid petroleum truck; and so on. All told, the lesson is pretty clear: tankers explode, and explosions kill.
China blogs Shanghaiist, Offbeat China, and Tea Leaf Nation have already clearly illustrated that China has a lot of people. But perhaps you didn’t know that China has a lot of people? In which case, you should check out this Sina slideshow, featuring high-res photos of China’s many, many people. We sample a few more... Read more »
More pictures here via AP. Another Golden Week tragedy, this time out of Hong Kong. Thirty-six people are confirmed dead after a ferry, the Lamma IV, capsized after colliding with a tug boat off Lamma Island. Many of the 120 onboard were off to Victoria Harbor to watch Hong Kong’s annual October 1 fireworks display, one... Read more »
This is the music they play in movies when a hero is about to die. It's dramatic, it builds upon its own tension, it tells a story of sorrow, sacrifice, and honor, or fulfillment, or redemption. (In fact, I'm pretty sure it comes from a movie, but I couldn't tell you which one.) And it's incredibly overwrought, never quite right for our world but fine for an alternate reality made in a studio.
If you ever want to understand what it means to live in China -- "real China," as some are fond of saying -- head out to one of the popular tourist sites this week. It doesn't matter which -- may as well be the Great Wall, shown above, or Xiangshan, or Jiuzhaigou, whatever. Advance warning: you'll need to prepare heavy doses of perspective and patience, and master a few advanced breathing techniques, because what you'll deal with will shock and anger you, and seriously test your resolve to be a compassionate, courteous human being.