Planes, trains and automobiles as China begins holiday

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BEIJING, Oct 3 (Reuters) Over 6 million Chinese took to trains and planes and road transport on the first day of a week-long holiday that marks National Day and when the capital alone expects some 1.7 million visitors.

State media today reported that tens of thousands of patriotic tourists crammed into Tiananmen square to watch the raising of the flag at dawn on October 1.

Some 1,000 of them got lost in the sea of people milling around an area that is larger than 60 football fields.

There are rising complaints that China's triannual ''golden week'' vacations -- aimed at stimulating domestic spending -- generate little but crowds, litter and pollution and that the pump-priming effect is waning.

The city government had 500 sweepers working around the clock in Tiananmen to clear up an estimated 14 tonnes of garbage dropped on just one day, the official China Daily reported.

Chinese people have taken to the idea of vacations with gusto since economic reforms put more money in their pockets, but many have become frustrated with the government-enforced holidays.

They have dubbed them ''Golden Porridge'', a play on words referring to the hot and sticky swarm of people flooding tourist spots and choking public transport. Around 150 million people travel during the breaks, which some officials say should be scrapped.

Spending boomed during the holiday in Beijing and was up 6 per cent from last year, with shoppers snapping up clothing, home appliances, cell phones and jewellery, the China Daily said.

REUTERS SG DS1140

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