By Wang Zongkai, Gao Pan
WASHINGTON, (PNA/Xinhua) — Roaming aimlessly at the National Mall in Washington D.C., a family of five from Australia felt frustrated as the U.S. capital welcomed them with all the museums locked.
“Smithonian Natural History Museum is the best place to see dinosaurs, my children love dinosaurs, but when we arrived this morning all the museums were already closed,” the Australian parent told Xinhua, “We live in Perth, a city in west Australia. We spent 23 hours for getting here. It is such a pity.”
“It is our first time here and we will only stay for two days including today,” complained the mother of one little boy and two daughters, “I’m afraid it is a waste trip to come here.”
Besides the Australian family, throngs of tourists from China, Japan, Mexico, Germany and many other countries were all puzzled at the travel maps on the Mall, on which many attractions that are supposed to be open all year round are not available now.
A Chinese girl from Shanghai, who only gave her surname as Wang, said: “I am wondering what other places of interest are left open. “With no clear answer and a backup plan, she said “I don’t mind paying entrance fee. It is already very expensive to travel so far here.”
The shutdown of historical sites and scenic spots is especially a bitter surprise for Chinese tourists who traveled thousands of miles to the United States and planned to enjoy their week-long National Day holiday here, which started on Tuesday.
Essentially, all Smithsonian institutions, museums and zoos are not open to the public and even the monuments and memorials in the open are closed with barricades, because over 3,500 out of 4,200 Smithsonian workers and more than 300 Park Service workers on the Mall are furloughed during the shutdown.
The federal government shutdown began Tuesday because the Congress failed to pass a funding bill to keep the government running. It has been 17 years since the government was shut down last time.
“I have seen government shutdown for five times since I moved to D.C. in 1970s,” Vincent Deforest, a retired Park Service worker, who claimed to lean to the Democratic Party, told Xinhua.
“This time the major issue is the Obamacare,” said Deforest, adding that “I think we have to give it (Obamacare) a chance, a brand new program that has never been tried before in this country will always face skepticism.”
The Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, faces challenges from the very beginning. It was enacted in 2010 on a strict party- line vote, which means the Obamacare was forced into law without any Republican support.
“I am against the Obamacare because it is too socialistic,” said a furloughed federal employee who declined to reveal her name and claimed to be independent, “but anyway I hope the shutdown will end soon.”
The same hope also lingered around at hearts of the fine arts students who sat on the lawn in front of the National Gallery of Art, painting the trees, clouds and sky on their drawing board, but their original plan is to copy the masterpieces inside the museum.