Yesterday was the last day of the first ever Sunflower Festival, which attracted 200,000 visitors over 18 days to Pujiang (浦江) in Zhejiang province to appreciate these beautiful flowers. But as the front page of the Youth Daily from Shanghai laments today, when all the tourists were gone, it was found that many of them had damaged the flowers by scratching smiley faces on them, or had given the flowers a ‘bald’ look. If you can stomach it, the Youth Daily front page today has graphic images of the deflowered, ‘smiling’ sunflowers, and asks: Sunflowers, why are you laughing but it looks like you’re crying? The Youth Daily is clearly fed up with all the damage and litter inflicted during the Golden Week holiday, and ends with an impassioned plea for tourists in China to act more civilized.
During the Golden Week holiday, a woman called madam Wang who attended the sunflower festival described her experience as follows: I thought I would bring my daughter to come and see the sunflowers, but I had no idea I would find so many ‘smiling faces.’ When madam Wang entered the festival grounds she immediately noticed the ‘smiling’ sunflowers, but she thought at first it was some kind of special display put on by the organizers. Yet when she noticed row after row of such similarly damaged flowers, she realized that it was fellow tourists who had done the foul deeds. There were ‘smiling faces’ and otherwise damaged flowers everywhere.
Where were the security officials, you might ask, why didn’t they do something about this? The head of security at the event, a man named Zhang Yongkang (张永康), told the Youth Daily that he simply felt helpless: We sometimes saw people plucking flowers out of the ground and told them not to do it, but there were always uncivilized tourists around (不文明游园). And even if one of his 35 guards caught people vandalizing the flowers and told them off about it, Zhang said, people would often just ignore them.
In addition to what happened at the Sunflower Festival, the Youth Daily article mentions the Qingpu Grand View Garden (青浦大观园) in Shanghai, which similarly suffered at the hands of tourists during the Golden Week holiday. Local staff told the newspaper that around 20,000 people visited the garden in the holiday, but the garbage they left behind just “doubled and quadrupled.” Some people damaged signposts in the park and picked flowers and branches of trees, inflicting serious damage.
Reflecting on all this, the Youth Daily has some stern words for all the people travelling to scenic spots in China during the holidays in a passage which I am translating in full:
During the Golden Week holiday all the scenic spots in the country were full to bursting with people, and many of them complained that they didn’t see any sights, they only saw people. These people don’t realize that all these scenic spots are also put under great pressure with the massive crowds, and here the particulars of uncivilized behaviour have come to the fore. All the people who damaged the flowers, threw litter on the ground, and vandalized public facilities…. these occurrences of uncivilized behaviour look ‘conveniently’ unimportant, but actually they expose a shortcoming in the public spirit (公德心) of tourists.
Despite that there are always people calling for civilized behaviour at hotspots during holiday periods, they all end up a total mess, and it seems that we must let the authorities introduce more severe punishments to put an end to this phenomenon, because otherwise our beautiful scenery is just damaged too much. But no matter for what reason, the throng of tourists must please just take it easy! (手下留情).
For more on the horrible littering and the maddening crowds of the Chinese Golden Week holiday, see China Smack for the treatment meted out to a beach in Sanya, or yesterday’s Front Page post on Danwei describing how very ‘not relaxed’ this year’s holiday was.
Links and sources
Youth Daily (向日葵，你为什么笑得好像哭?)