The British Government thinks its tough preventing commuters complaining about standing an hour with ever-increasing rail costs. However, with such a tiny country, about the same population as Guangdong Province, they have it easy. Further east, the largest annual human migration in the world is on its way back. For 40-days around Chinese New Year, 3.4-billion journeys will be swarmed across Mainland China.
From all Chinese cities millions of migrant workers travel to their home villages to visit relatives. For most, not just a once-a-year visit, but their only holiday. Almost everyone works 6-to-7 days a week with very little extra leave. Shops and restaurants are open every single day.
Outside main railway stations an army of police offer free hot drinks and rice porridge to the crowns waiting, often days, for a train. In West Beijing, the largest station in the world, the campers stop traffic to make more space. The 128,000 klm train network can handle 225-million passengers, but demand is 10-times more this time of year. And with even more working in cities for extra money, there is a record rush in 2013.
The Chinese Government expects 8.6% more travellers than last Lunar New Year. Despite the growing train network 3.1-billion trips will have to be made by bus, especially as Chinese airlines run at near-full normally – so it’s not surprising prices have gone up and airports have been ordered to supply free bottled water and noodles.
For the past year in Hong Kong, the 7-million residents have had to breathe in for 3-million-a-month Mainland tourists squeezing in to enjoy tax-free computers and cameras. The Government loves it as they spend about US$300 each, but it does cause problems. Hong Kong locals hate the blitz of pushers and spitters surging through the already over-crowed trains.
Next week MiMi and I will be making our frequent scramble from the New Territories to our flat in Guangzhou, formally Canton, the 12-million-populated capital of Guangdong. It usually takes about 3 1/2-hours door-to-door, but I expect delays.
See my personal site at NigelHayMckay.com