人山人海, Ren Shan Ren Hai, is one of the first idiomatic phrases we learned in our time in China. It was first said to us during Golden Week, which is a very important holiday in China. The phrase roughly translates to “people mountain, people sea”, meaning that there would be a lot of people everywhere. Well, it’s China, it’s populated, so there is always a lot of people everywhere. “No, no this time will be different. You’ll see.” was the retort. And boy howdy did we see.
Our first Golden Week was spent traveling to Hong Kong to go camping on the beach with our friends. Everywhere we looked there were people and everything was crowded: the train, the metro, the buses, oh the buses. Traveling double-decker sardine cans rolling through the streets. The crush of people moving in every which way, not like waves, because waves seemingly have order and these masses do not. Bustling by to go shopping or to meet friends, others standing perfectly still while trying to take just, the perfect selfie. Walls of people taking up posts inexplicably at the entrance to everywhere I guess deciding on where to go to next
What struck me as the most interesting part of this whole charade is people’s apparent revelry in the chaos. Before the holiday, people will ask where you’re going during the holiday and without failure their response to your answer will be “Oh, it’ll be so crowded.” On the holiday they will giddily take pictures of the hoards and post them all over their social media like little badges of honor. “Look what I endured to shop in Hong Kong, see how many people were visiting the market, and so on.”
Well I too endured the masses and here I am displaying my badge of honor and having come out of each situation unscathed I feel that I can safely say that no where in the USA will ever feel crowded again.