Still the Chinese seem to have found a way, and you'll cop more than one or two elbows in any crowd trying to get somewhere.
Actually "queue" is not a word that many seem to have heard in China, it really is every man for himself, but amid the chaos there are a few rules for effective 'elbowing'.
There‘s a historical bent to the tendency to elbow your way through a crowd, as one American living in Shanghai explains.
"Traveling here requires patience, because it is so overcrowded! Also, many people here are from another era, when they didn't have enough food and were suffering. They still carry that mentality. They feel like they must rush, push, eat fast, or they won't get where they need to go, or they won't get the food."
While the Chinese may find it culturally acceptable to push and shove, you might react a little harshly.
The shoving is usually not overly violent, just enough to move you out of the way. Places notorious for this behavior include train, bus and metro stations, at both the ticket counter and the stop.
Being in such an aggressive, tight crowd can produce quick panic and claustrophobia in certain individuals, so remove yourself from the chaos by leaning against a wall or ducking into an open alleyway.
Or, if you want to get "China fierce," act like a local and stand your ground by refusing to let anyone past you in the queue or shoving back those that shove you.
"Sometimes I get a little fierce with people, but mostly, I walk around with the attitude, ‘It‘s crowded and I need to be patient,‘" the American expat in Shanghai explains.
The cultural tendency also spreads to places like restaurants, where an empty seat at your table will attract a local, even if you make it clear you just want to sit with your group.
If there‘s an available nook or cranny, people in China will attempt to squeeze into it.
This diluted concept of personal space can also take on a tender aspect, as it‘s quite common to see people, even those of the same sex, holding hands or hooking arms while walking down the street.
It is also normal for the Chinese to just stare at you. It‘s not out of rudeness as much as curiosity, especially if you are very blonde, something they don‘t often see.
Time off work is scarce in China, so many people travel during the few holidays the calendar allots, such as Chinese New Year.
This means high-tourist areas get even more packed during holiday times. One expat living in Shanghai described an early October visit during National Holiday to Chengdu, which drew around 1.6 billion people.
It will be impossible to avoid the mad rush in many places, but at spots like the Great Wall, you can get away from the heaps of travelers by going further up the landmark, where there tends to be fewer people. One person who writes a guide to China argues that if you travel during off-peak times and go out when there‘s fewer people (late afternoon for lunch instead of 1 on the dot, when everyone and their mother will be trying to get a bite to eat), you‘ll be fine.
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