Chinese Language Blog

Happy Labor Day Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

Happy Labor Day!
láo dòng jié kuài lè

Yesterday marked International Labor Day in many countries around the world (except for the US, which celebrates in September). Know colloquially in Chinese as simply “5-1”  (五一 : wǔ yī), this holiday was once a Golden Week (黄金周 – huáng jīn zhōu) along with Spring Festival and National Day, but was demoted to a one-day holiday in 2008 when the government decided to add Tomb Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival to the holiday calendar. People still usually get a 4-5 day holiday for Labor Day, but they do so in a roundabout way, working the weekend prior to or after the actual holiday in order to get more days off in a row. Some years, people end up working seven days in a row, getting three off for the holiday, working two more, and then having a normal weekend. If it sounds messed up, that’s because it is. Anyways, let’s celebrate Labor Day in China through some of our best posts over the years!

Time to Travel

A Chinese music festival. Why not?

A Chinese music festival. Why not?

Even though it’s no longer a Golden Week, 5-1 is still a huge holiday in terms of travel. Popular spots like Hong Kong, Xiamen, and Zhangjiajie are absolutely overrun with tourists. This isn’t exactly a relaxing time to travel, but you can still manage to have quite a bit of fun. Just look at some of my past May Day exploits as living proof. Back in 2010, we had a wild adventure getting to a music festival in the middle of nowhere. Read the story to find out how I ended up dropping my pants in a KTV joint before passing out on the couch.

One of Dalian's many, many squares.

One of Dalian’s many, many squares.

In 2013, we decided to take a trip to the coastal city of Dalian (大连 – dà lián) to cross Liaoning province off our list. Before it even really started, what was supposed to be a nice little vacation morphed into a disaster – the place I booked had no record of my reservation and no rooms available. In a bit of a pickle, we ended up staying in a “tourist hotel” and only got a decent rate by signing up for their day tour. If you’ve read my “10 Things I Hate About China” post, you know how I feel about Chinese tour groups already. Needless to say, the tour was absolutely horrendous. The only thing good that came out of it is that we managed to get some of our money back, and I made this funny video warning all of you not to make a similar mistake when traveling in China:

Thankfully, all was not lost in Dalian. After the tour from hell, we managed to enjoy the city on our own, exploring the seaside, parks, squares, and of course eating lots of delicious food.

Finally, a successful May Day!

Finally, a successful May Day!

They say the third time’s the charm, so we went for it and tried one more May Day trip. Last year we decided to travel up to Dali (大理 – dà lǐ) as we were living in Kunming. Even though this is one of the most popular destinations in the entire country, we managed to have a relatively peaceful and quiet weekend cruising around the lake and hiking in the mountains. Read more for how we were able to escape the holiday crowds in a place as popular as Dali.

Back to Work

劳动人民知识化 - Laboring People. Image by Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library from

劳动人民知识化 – Laboring People.
Image by Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library from

This holiday is about celebrating the workers, after all, so now that you’ve read those funny travel tales and watched the videos it’s time to get back to work. Here are some posts for you to read and study, all related to the Labor Day holiday:

As for me, I spent my five years in China working as an ESL teacher and running this and a few other blogs for a part-time job. It was a great experience, and something I’m constantly recommending others to try. If you’re interested to learn more, I’ve put together an extensive guide to Teaching English in China over on my website, Grateful Gypsies.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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