The great migration

One out; all out.

One of the many problems China has is its holidays. When the Chinese have a holiday, they all have the same holiday. The Spring Festival is the biggest holiday of the year, being the Chinese equivalent to Christmas. That means that because everyone is trying to get home to be with their families, there is this huge, annual mass migration.

For the past few years, I’ve avoided the Spring Festival altogether, delaying any travelling till afterwards. The general rule is not to go near Beijing during the week of the Spring Festival. Usually, I’ve headed to Hong Kong the week after, but this year I decided to spend a little longer in Hong Kong and experience the Spring Festival there.

I’m off next Monday, but what a rigmarole to get there. Unlike Beijing, I can’t just swan off to the airport. First I have to go into Nanjing to get the tickets, and then get to the airport. I was going to go in tomorrow and get the tickets from the travel agent, but she phoned me this morning and said she could book me a room for Sunday night since I’m off on Monday afternoon, which was nice of her.

When I got to the ticket office at the railway station, it was a little packed to say the least. I joined a queue for a window that shut at midday and got there just in time. I think if I’d tried to go to Nanjing tomorrow, I would’ve got “Mei you banfa” (basically, “No way.”). As it was, trying to get on a train on Sunday wasn’t easy either. The machine on the counter was obviously saying, “Sorry, that train’s not available”. I eventually got a ticket for the 4.40pm train. I won’t say seat, because it doesn’t look like I’m getting one.

Anyway, I’ve just tried to book into a guesthouse in Tsim Sha Tsui. Bit more expensive than I usually go for, but I’ve had enough of ratty rooms in Mirador Arcade. However, there’s no guarantee a room will be available and I may end up with the cockroaches again.

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