Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lines (or lack thereof)

Among other revelations during this last weekend at Huangshan, the fact that lines don't exist in China really solidified.

When you wait anywhere, the checkout at Carrefour, to enter the subway (you don't wait for others to exit first), to use the ATM, or, in line for a gondola ride at Huangshan Mountain, the idea of patiently lining up single-file is ludicrous. Some would find this rude, but in a country of 1.3 billion, I understand why some efforts to organize become absurd. Also with that many people, the instinct to try and survive on your own runs rampant. The problem is so bad that the government, at least in Beijing, is starting to intervene.

The photos (COMING SOON, or check snapshots here!) above are from what ultimately turned out to be a 5.5 hour wait for a gondola ride to the midway point at Huangshan Mountain. Yes, a gondola ride, not a national-border or for UN rations. This man nearly pummeled a 10-year-old to cut in line (he was scolded promptly thereafter in Mandarin by a member of our party). I have a bruise on my rib cage from an old man elbowing me. People made fun of us yelled "Go, home!" As the ones not doing the shoving were quite confused...

The wait was caused by a corrupt tour guide and a bunch of us ended up hopping the fence at 12:30 to hike up the peak on our own. The apathetic cops didn't seem to care about us, or anything for that matter.

Although Huangshan (of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" fame) is beautiful, the line and related violence were inexcusable. I've been to punk shows with more polite crowds. Ultimately, everything worked out, but until I go back to the states, I'm finding myself more aggressive with my shoulders.

This weekend's adventure: Beijing!