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The Annual Roadtrip for Chinese New Year

This year, Valentine’s Day happens to coincide with the first day of the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, as it’s known in China. 2010 marks the Year of the Tiger in the lunar calendar and the national holiday lasts from 13 to 19 of February.

Sending people home is the most critical task for China’s national transportation ministry every year. Imagine 210 million people making their annual trip home and then back again to work in the cities after the holidays via a host of different transportation means including air, trains, coaches, cars, and you get the picture. Most people consider it a campaign in itself, called “Chunyun” in Chinese, which means “Spring Festival transportation.” This year, the campaign started on 30 January and lasts forty days until 10 March. Getting a train ticket is always the biggest challenge for those who need to travel long distances. Reason being, the majority of the people going home are regular workers who toil throughout the year for their one trip back, and the train is the most economic travel option. Limited railway capacity versus huge demand means that there is always a gap. Looking at the people queuing outside of the railway station from midnight to early morning, with ticket brokers buying and selling tickets for scalper prices, it reminds me of the scenes of people buying an Avatar IMAX movie ticket or a Michael Jackson concert ticket, but this time, everyone’s just going home, having a family reunion and, of course, indulging in a good rest after a year of hard work.

As for me, I am looking forward to having the week off from the office. As my family is here with me in Shanghai, I am fortunate to not have to join the throngs of travellers in the lead up to the new year. Everyone in our Shanghai office is gearing up for the long break, looking forward to reuniting with their families and enjoying the beginning of spring.

Category: Global Impact
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