Golden Week, by John Iuga

Would you like a legally enforced week off from work? Then come and work in China during the the National Day Holiday. October 1st is the day China commemorates the founding of the PRC and has done so every year since 1950. The holiday itself is actually only three days, but somehow the government rearranges the weekdays and essentially ‘stitches’ the two weekends on either side of the week together to effectively give everyone seven days off, hence: ‘Golden Week’. Expect to see jaw dropping queues and traffic-jams which last for days – this isn’t surprising considering over 700 million people travelled in that week in 2018 alone!

During this time myself and a few of the other amazing teachers at Aihua took an organised trip to Inner Mongolia, a large region in China to the west of Beijing. This was an opportunity to see a side of China we previously hadn’t had the privilege of experiencing yet: yurts with semi-functioning toilets, desert theme parks and traditional Mongolian death metal concerts (these are all real). I would have to say that aside from the horrendously arduous 10+ hour bus journey, we had admitted that once we had arrived and the activities started it was all immediately worth it: how often can you say you rode a horse, zip lined, rode an ATV in the desert, wrestled in horse manure and watched the sun rise from a yurt all in one day? If you love to travel as much as I do, then this holiday will immediately become one of your favourites.

This long holiday is one of the many amazing things about China: it just offers you the opportunity to do so many things you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do back home. The tour companies here are excellent if you want to make friends from all over the world, and there was an amazing mix of people from countries you wouldn’t expect as well as plenty of locals wanting to get involved. Relatively speaking, we didn’t venture too far away from home, with others opting to go further afield to South Korea and the Philippines during the week-long holiday, just because. Other people used the time to just catch up on important things such as work and life-admin activities or relax with a nice book, which sounds just fine too. Just think: what would you do with a free whole week off?

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