February 3 Longhua, China New Year’s Exodus

The exodus has begun. On Saturday morning, I was woken up to the beep, beep, beeping of a bus backing up. I looked out the window, and instead of seeing the usual line-up of vans waiting to take the managers and VPs to work, there was an airport bus. It filled up and left, and another took its place. All during the day, I watched people dragging suitcases from the dorm buildings out towards the front gate to catch taxis to the airport. I even heard the distinct sounds of a couple of of our neighbors rolling suitcases down the hall. All of the Taiwanese managers and VPs are going back to Taiwan for the Chinese New Year. Yet, not everyone can leave. The factories will be running until Friday, when the Chinese workers will get off for their holiday. So who stays? The Americans, of course! We all went home the end of December for the holidays to be with our families.  This is similar to the Hanukkah/Christmas trade-off between the Jews and the Christians at home, two holidays that everyone wants to spend with their families. Jeff and I have stayed in Yantai, China, and Taipei, Taiwan, over the Chinese New Year holiday, but not here in Longhua until this year. It will be interesting to seen what it is like here.

On Saturday morning, we learned that the cafeteria was going to be closing Sunday evening. So we will need to leave the dorm complex to go out to eat for almost two weeks, until it reopens on Sunday, February 17. New Year’s Day is on February 10 this year, so the Taiwanese will have the following week off, until Monday, February 18. But they will start returning on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before the 18th because there  are only so many flights on one day between Taiwan and China! We slightly altered our weekend plans to eat dinner both nights in the cafeteria instead of eating out in another restaurant in Longhua or Shenzhen, because we knew we would be eating out for the next two weeks. So Jeff and I celebrated his birthday dinner Sunday night with a dinner in the dorm cafeteria!

Yesterday afternoon, when we were walking around Longhua, on some streets already about half of the stores were closed. I was not too surprised by this, since I had spent Chinese New Year in Taiwan a couple of times. Fortunately, about half the restaurants withing easy walking distance of the dorm complex are still open. We will see if that continues as we get closer to Chinese New Year on Sunday. In Taipei, almost everything closed from New Year’s Eve until three days after the New Year. Everything except the convenience stores like 7Eleven and Family Mart. They did a brisk business from people like me who had not left the city to go spend time with their families.

In cities like Taipei where most people are recent immigrants who still have family somewhere else in Taiwan, they need to close up shop in order to travel to visit their families.  I suspect the Shenzhen area will be the same.way, as this is also a city of recent immigrants from other sections of China. In Taipei, restaurants and shops run by locals just closed for a shorter period of time. Also, Western franchise stores, such as McDonalds, Subway, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, also closed for a shorter period of time. We have two of those franchises within walking distance. We almost never eat at them, but we might this weekend!

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