Chinese tourists strolled down bar lanes in Dali, the country’s backpacker mecca, carrying selfie sticks and just recovered from COVID. They were partying the tension of the previous three years away.
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China is experiencing a surge in domestic travel as the Lunar New Year draws near after the administration abruptly abandoned its long-standing zero-COVID plan last month.
Hu, a Beijinger visiting Dali in southwest Yunnan province, declared, “I feel so free.
“I heard someone singing a tune I really like while I was strolling down the bar street… I think everybody is so joyful,” she told AFP over the weekend.
Traveling required traversing a confusing web of onerous restrictions and several testing procedures just two months ago.
The streets of large cities are now dotted with shuttered PCR testing booths, some of which are encrusted in a crust of disinfection residues and others of which have been broken into by street cats.
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Numerous people have been able to benefit from the loosening up after the initial weeks of reopening when millions contracted COVID, overloading hospitals and crematoriums. However, recently, infections have started to decline.
When AFP visited Dali, the lively old town was crowded with bars and food vendors, and the night was punctuated by the sounds of firecrackers as locals celebrated the Kitchen God festival.
After recuperating from COVID, Zhou Hua, a visitor from Chengdu who was there with his family, said he came to breathe in the mountain air and “clean out his lungs.”
We hurried out here since we’ve been stranded at home for three years already, he added.
Similar events took place in the Xishuangbanna prefecture, which is known for its temples and tropical setting and is located in Yunnan province.
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A mob of tourists pressed together to enter a packed night market as clubs across the Lancang River, as the upper portion of the Mekong is known in China, blared a cacophony of pop songs.
Women posed on the banks wearing elaborate makeup and traditional-inspired attire as paid photographers took shots.
Hotels in the main tourist area displayed “No Vacancy” signs, and diners frequently waited up to an hour for tables at well-liked eateries.
The usual high traffic before Lunar New Year only adds to the rush hour.
Over two billion journeys are expected to be made in a 40-day period between January and February, which is more than double the amount from the previous year and 70% more than pre-pandemic levels.
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The Celebrations Raise Concerns For the Surge in Covid Cases Once Again in China.
China’s President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that he was “concerned” about the viral condition in the countryside, raising worries that cases will spike when millions return home.
Though many Yunnanes AFP spoke with downplayed epidemic fears, most of the support system for the zero-COVID policy was dismantled.
When AFP visited the region last week, several COVID checkpoints that were used to inspect vehicles and cargo were vacant along the province’s southern border with Myanmar.
This increases our concerns that China will be experiencing more such cases.