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John Abbot is co-owner of Married to a lovely Chinese Lady and living in China, John knows and respects China, Chinese Women, Chinese People and Chinese Culture. His blog will include good stuff about Online Dating, Chinese Women, International Relationships and Things Chinese. Join John Abbot on Google+
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Happy Chinese New Year & Year Of The Dragon    

By John Abbot
2725 Views | 9 Comments | 1/22/2012 4:41:06 PM

Spring Festival is here and the chaos has reached full blast, having started almost 2 weeks ago and been building up speed since then. Of course if you’re a stay-at-home type, as most Expats in China are at this time of year, the chaos going on may have gone unnoticed. But if you’re one of the gazillion Chinese or few Expats who are caught up travelling during the annual greatest human migration in human history then you’ve no doubt been caught up in the chaos at some point.

My wife and I decided on a whim, because of a deal on Taobao that was too good to pass up, to spend the weekend in Nanjing. We took the bullet train from Hangzhou over to Nanjing on Friday the 20th, parked our butts in a new Hilton Hotel for roughly 75% off the normal rate, and then caught the bullet train back to Hangzhou in plenty of time to catch New Year’s Eve at home so we could watch the fireworks once again. If you missed it, my blog about the fireworks last year can be read here…

We suffered little from the chaos because there tend to be not many travelers who are rushing home to Nanjing for Spring Festival, and even fewer to Hangzhou. Both these cities tend to be places where there are many migrant workers residing who are going home to other places at CNY, and not so many locals who are living and working elsewhere. Hangzhou especially is pretty notorious for having citizens who do not wish to live anywhere else. So basically once we got past the schmozzle that existed at the train stations, made up of citizens of elsewhere and everywhere trying to get home, and reached the waiting rooms for our respective trains to and from Nanjing, it was all pretty simple.

Since the new plan to sell train tickets online started this year it was also very simple and easy for us to book our tickets in advance, walk the few blocks to the ticket center that is conveniently close to home to pick them up, and arrive a couple of weeks later at the station where we could bypass the line ups and head straight for the waiting room. So for us, chaos was escaped and we were nothing more than witnesses to it all. All well and good for those of us with computers and internet, especially since the railway authorities came up with the brilliant idea of starting ticket sales by internet 4 days before the same tickets became available at the ticket windows at the railway stations.

Brilliant, that is, for those with extra money for things like computers and internet; that is to say, the middle class. Not so brilliant for the working poor who are the ones most desperately in need of that journey home for Spring Festival, when they get to see families, often including their children and even spouses, for the only time in the entire year. For them, this wasn’t such a brilliant plan at all, since most of them have no idea how to even access the internet, let alone the capacity to book and pay for a ticket online. By the time they reached those railway station ticket windows there were damned few tickets left to be had, and they were turned away in droves.

Making your way from Shenzhen, in Guangdong (the deep South East), where you slave in some factory, or work hard labour on construction of the metro (so you can send back funds to keep your family alive) to your home in some village in Xinjiang (the far North West), has to be enough of an ordeal by train. So imagine the nightmare of trying to do it by bus.

So when I wish everyone a Happy Spring Festival, I especially would like to extend that wish to the masses of working poor in China. I hope you all made it home to your loved ones and that you have the best two weeks you’ve ever enjoyed. May your children’s smiles and hugs warm your hearts sufficiently to make the other 50 weeks of the year worth the hell you must endure.

And if I took a seat on a train that prevented any one of you from making the journey home, please, please forgive me. Now that I understand how screwed up and unfair the system was, and how it cheated so many people out of a Happy Spring Festival, I promise I will never take one of your seats on your way home again, even if it was for just a short portion of your lengthy journey.

Having gotten that off my chest, may I wish everyone, regardless of where you are in the world, a Joyous Spring Festival. May you all have a wondrous family time.

May the Year of the Dragon be the year that the world finds peace and that all people of all races, creeds and colours finally come together and recognize that we are all brothers and sisters on a small speck of dust in a vast, vast universe. Let this be the year that we all start to care for each other.

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
(Showing 1 to 9 of 9) 1
#2012-01-22 23:36:08 by younyoun @younyoun

Happy Chinese New Year!

#2012-01-23 10:49:41 by woaizhongguo @woaizhongguo

祝你新年快乐!For those who want to understand something about what it is like for migrant workers to make that journey, I would highly recommend "Last Train Home," which is available on Netflix。

#2012-01-23 12:51:51 by ccp @ccp

Happy Chinese New Year!!

#2012-01-23 22:59:59 by tanshui @tanshui

Happy New Year John to you both; and to all reading this blog.

Too funny about taking someone's seat - as if they could afford to to buy a seat on a bullet train. hahahaha.

#2012-01-24 00:05:18 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Hey Tanshui, you're right, of course, about the migrant workers not being able to afford the bullet train, but taking it a step further, if I forced a middle class person off the bullet train and onto the regular train, then maybe that in turn bumped a poor person to a bus. The bottom line is that the ticket system was completely unfair to the people who need to travel the most during Spring Festival, and I feel a twinge of guilt for having taken advantage of that, albeit somewhat unknowingly.

#2012-01-24 06:55:33 by medicineman1961 @medicineman1961

Hey John,
Happy New Year. I was living in Hangzhou for 6 months and working at Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital as a consultant. Had I known you were based out of Hangzhou, I would have stopped by the office. Next time I'm in town, the beer is on me at Eudora. Keith

#2012-01-24 11:19:18 by anonymous3200 @anonymous3200

新年恭祝大家:大财、小财、意外财,财源滚滚;亲情、友情、爱情,情情如意;官运、财运、桃花运,运运亨 通;爱人、亲人、友人,人人平安!

#2012-01-25 23:28:39 by tanshui @tanshui

While I do agree with you that the new railway ticketing system is unfair I must say John you are sounding like an Eastern Canadian with existential guilt. hahaha

I am getting ready to head back to Beijing where it is every man and woman for themselves and even laowai are happily trampled or shoved aside in the rush to get anywhere or get something.

I still can't get used to cars stopping to let me cross the street here in Toronto. I am worried that my ability to rotate my head 360 degrees and have my eyes see in every direction at the same time has been compromised and I will not be aware of cars, scooters, bicycles and whatnot coming from every direction even on the sidewalks.

#2012-01-26 21:24:22 by mengnannning @mengnannning


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