Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Chinese New Year Madness

If you are familiar with Chinese New Year you know the insane amount of people on the road during this time of the year. I think for anyone it is hard to imagine how many people really are on the road traveling back to their home towns. Even after five years it is hard for me to picture the whole thing. Essentially everything is being influenced by Chinese New Year here: 

ATMs: It is custom that parents and married couples will hand out money in little red enveloped to their friends and family. Besides the amount of money that is in the envelope also the actual money itself is incredibly symbolic: It has to be new. So people have been flooding ATMs here in the city taking out a lot of cash, which has quite frankly caused quite the shortage of money. I went to 8 different ATMs on Saturday and none of them had any cash! 

Metro: People take the metro with a lot of bags on them, minimizing the space in the metro that is available for people. Commuting here in Guangzhou is based on a very fine line that is separating complete chaos from barely functioning. Last week one of the escalators was broken at the train station I have to transfer at. People were pushing and crowding around the one escalator that was working, essentially blocking everything else. It was quite frightening how much pushing and running was going on. 

UPDATE: So I actually wrote this a couple days ago, but I wanted to see how the situation continues to worsen as spring festival approaches and I was not disappointed. China is experiencing some really cold weather, which caused a lot of trains to delay at the main train station I usually transfer the metro at here in Guangzhou. The station was shut down for metro users, because more than 10'000 people were stranded there on Monday night. The situation just got worse and now this news update: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/02/at-least-100000-chinese-new-year-travellers-stuck-at-railway-station
The sheer amount of humans there is absolutely unimaginable

Ticket Prices: The prices for everything that has to do with traveling is soaring at the moment and there are a lot of people selling fake travel tickets online. One of my colleagues had to call the police because he bought a fake ticket. 

... and there are many more that I can't think of right now. 

I was trying to figure out what I should do during my time off and how I could avoid some of the crowds for spring festival. It is impossible to avoid the crowds, but you can definitely minimize the stress level. So I looked at a map of China and was trying to find the last place I would ever go to: Ningxia Province. And rest assured the tickets were quite cheap! I will fly to Ningxia next week and then take the train from Yinchuan to Inner Mongolia where I will meet a friend from there. I am super excited and am planning packing all the warm clothing I can possibly find since it is -20 degrees in Inner Mongolia. 

I wish everyone a great Chinese New Year and for everyone to be patient .... 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

China Hasn't Beat Me Yet!

I haven’t written in a while and I am well aware of that. Writing makes me deal with the things that stress me out and sometimes make me uncomfortable, but I have so many topics running through my head and I think it would be good to put them in writing. Here are some things I would like to address in my writing:

Switching from music to podcasts on my commute and what difference it makes

Feeling very much alone in this huge city

Trying not to panic when all I want to do is panic

Trying my hardest to be polite at all times

Talking about that guy who blew his nose for 30min on my metro ride today

Alcohol & Drugs

Sitting for 9 hours a day 


I will write about every single one of these topics and will try my hardest to keep a consistency to posting the blogs.

I am standing so frozen because a soldier was yelling at me not to take pictures next to the sign.... and that was on a weekend trip to Dali in December. Nature is fun.