How best to celebrate one’s national day? Well, I wouldn’t know, the English being so scared of being mistaken for chauvinists that we do not have one, but for the Chinese, the answer is simple: shop. I wish I could join them: a big supermarket would be nice. But I can’t even buy a bag of plums. I try twice but I am weary of haggling and my inner tightwad will not pay more than I would back home.
Even the constant drizzle doesn’t put off the locals. More people than I have ever seen in one place gather in Suzhou’s shopping streets. I plan to see some sights but it’s no use in this fog.
Because it’s a week’s holiday for the Chinese, my travel plans are rooted. There is no train to Yantai until the sixth, and then I can have a standing ticket. Standing for 16 years doesn’t appeal. So I book a flight to Beijing. They’re going cheap because of massive overcapacity so I can get there for a bit more than a hundred bucks. Perhaps I will carry on to the terracotta warriors but in any case, I can’t say I’m dismayed to be taking a short flight rather than a long train journey.