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As I type this, there’s a group of cicadas in the garden below the window next to my desk. The insects are earnestly whining away in an attempt to attract mates, like a group of liquored-up frat boys on their seventh round of the night calling out to every girl in the club to sit down and do a shot of Jaeger with them.

There’s not much I can do about it though, given that hordes of cicadas perch in Japan’s trees every summer. Unpleasant as they are at first, after enough time you get used to them, and eventually some people don’t even notice them.

And if you think that sort of aural acclimation is amazing, consider this: some people don’t seem to mind the crazy crowds that pack into China’s public pools each summer.

Japan’s been having a pretty mild summer so far, but as we pull out of the rainy season, things are sure to be getting more crowded at the beach and pool. China, on the other hand, is well into a sweltering heat wave. Highs in the 35-40 degrees Celsius (95-104 degrees Fahrenheit) range, plus surface concrete temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit), have sent the country’s population running for the nearest body of chilled chlorinated water.

Unfortunately, China’s number of pools isn’t nearly as large as its number of people, and when 1.3 billion people have to share, sometimes this is the result.

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Public pools are, by definition, open to everyone, which for some of these pools seems to also be the proper way to describe who’s showed up.

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▼ The “Welcome to the Dead Sea” banners are confusing, but still not nearly effective enough in distracting us from the sheer number of people.

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Even by the standards of Japan, a country where even tombstones are crowded together in cemeteries, these are some shocking images, prompting the following comments from Internet users.

“I think I’d get people sick in there.”
“Forget swimming, you’re lucky if you can fit a single part of your body into the water.”
“All this is doing is turning the pool into one huge public restroom.”
“Don’t they ever cap attendance?”

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If you’re wondering what goes through the mind of someone willing to jump into these pools, you’re not the only one. Local news crews interviewed a few young women, with one happy “swimmer” replying, “It’s exciting!”

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“Isn’t it kind of scary being in the pool with so many people?” reporters pressed. “No way!” came the reply. “The more the merrier!”

▼ Merriment?

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Going back to the subject of cicadas, not only do many Japanese people reach a point where they don’t mind the racket the bugs make, some even welcome it. To them, that high-pitched whine is a sign of summer, and all the fun times the season entails.

Maybe something similar is happening with China’s packed pools. After all, the conditions don’t seem to be hurting attendance one bit.

▼Skip ahead to 00:56 for video footage of these crowded beaches and pools.

Source, images: China News, Ifeng
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