Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Joining a Mass Migration Out of the Pearl River Delta Area

During recent days at the Dongmen shopping district in Shenzhen, lint removers were obviously not the only item in demand. One item in particular stood out.

luggage for sale at Dongmen in Shenzhen

So many people walked around with pieces of newly purchased luggage, one could wonder whether the world's biggest annual human migration is underway in China. It is. During a 40 day period surrounding the Lunar New Year, Chinese travelers are expected to take 2.9 billion trips. Notably, that's 700 million trips less than last year.

Yesterday, travelers in nearby Guangzhou experienced some of the pains which occur when transporting all of those people doesn't go as planned. Due to bad weather far to the north delaying trains, thousands were stranded — figures range from 38,000 to 100,000. Part of the discrepancy may be due to some figures including Guangzhou East Railway Station. Whatever the case, it was a lot of people and probably a miserable experience.

Yesterday, I made my own journey. Due to my unexpected return to the area and staying in Shenzhen longer than planned, I was not able to buy a train ticket in advance. They were sold out, so I took a bus at roughly twice the cost — partly attributable to the bus company's willingness to raise prices for the holiday. The bus ride lasted over 6 hours instead of the 2 hours possible on a high speed train, though that doesn't factor in the bus stations' more convenient locations. I am not complaining, though, even with the many unexpected detours the bus took to pick up more passengers. I made it to my destination.

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