Qingdao beach

人山人海

Bus after bus goes in, out.

Hoards of tourists from throughout China shuffle on, off. Push. Pull.

On this early-August day along Qingdao’s shores, in every direction I turn, waves of Chinese vacationers assault all my senses. This is what they think is a vacation?

A beach in China is none like you’ve ever seen before. Think of the most crowded beach you’ve ever been to.

Multiply it by 100.

You may come close to the magnitude of tourists in Qingdao.

No lifeguards? Would they even matter? I think darkly, looking over the ant-like figures from atop the Xiaoyushan Park overlooking the city of red rooftops, honking, Tsingtao beer, and an overwhelming number of tourists in August.

人山人海 literally translates to “people mountain people sea” (which apparently is also a French movie?), but more importantly, it stands to represent the massive Chinese populace in just about any and every situation.

I’ve gotten tastes of the truth in this phrase this past year, whether in Shanghai, Hangzhou, and definitely in Zhuhai while trying to buy train tickets on the way back from Macau. (Seriously, don’t ever ask me to buy train tickets in China. I’m traumatized each and every time).

But today even in a private group tour of four, it was impossible not to think about anything but 人山人海 when buses full of tourists load and unload and you hear shouting everywhere and people push past you without regard and children run and fall and—it just takes a lot of open-mindedness and acceptance to keep yourself sane.

I admit I may have overreacted to a lot of what I witnessed, but in the end, I accepted it all for what it is. China is overpopulated, and this is its result.Qingdao beach

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