The Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, starts from Feb 9 to Feb 15, 2005. There will be a long vacation for people in China. Here is how this works:
- Feb 9, Feb 10, and Feb 11 are public holiday.
- Feb 12 and Feb 13 are Saturday and Sunday.
- Feb 14 (Mon) and Feb 15 (Tue) are not holiday, but exchange with the weekend of Feb 5 (Sat) and Feb 6 (Sun).
That means, in exchange of the continuous holiday, people need to work 9 days continuously from Jan 31 (Mon) to Feb 8 (Tue). This is very similar to the arrangement of the last year. My friend in New York heard people in China have much more holidays than they do in New York. It is not true.
My Spring Festival of 2005
Wendy and I will stay in Shanghai this year. This is the second year we stayed in Shanghai. (2004)
To return home for family reunion is the tradition of China. No matter where you are and no matter how poor you are, you have to appear at the New Year Eve dinner table. This was THE rule for many centuries. Meanwhile, the estimated 1.79 billion person * trip will stress test the railway, airlines, and long distance bus business. To travel at during this time is not a good idea.
There are hot debates on whether the national wide railway should raise their price by about 20%. The “pro-” side says the price is made by the market instead of government. The “anti-” side says it is rubbery to raise the price of something people have no other choices. I haven’t decided which side to support yet.
Stay Instead of Fight
After fighting for a ticket back home and back to Shanghai for 8 years (1996 – 2003), we decided to stay in Shanghai and invite our parents to Shanghai before or during the Spring Festival for reunion. They have more flexibility of travel time. Every time I returned home in Henan Province, I suffered a lot. I had to get up as early as 4:00 AM exactly 7 days before the departure date (when the ticket hit the market) and to line up before the ticket office. It opened at 8:00 AM. Standing in the cold winter for at least 4 hours, a ticket is still not garenteed. I got “sorry” more often than “yes”.
The Most Memorable Trip Back to Luoyang
I still remember the Spring Festival of 2002. I couldn’t get a train ticket anyway and I finally chose to fly to Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province and take bus to Luoyang. There are about 1 and a half hour’s bus ride between the cities.
After delaying at the Hong Qiao Airport for 6 hours (Yes. I Expect the Flight Delay), we finally left Shanghai around 6:00 PM of the Lunar New Year Eve. I had no hope to get back home that night. There should be no bus or taxi when we arrived at Zhengzhou Airport around 9:00 PM. With the strong reunion tradition, who will work in the New Year’s Eve? It turned out to be a quite good guess.
Then I thought of the idea to try something special. “How about gathering some people with same destination and hiring a bus (if we were lucky) at Zheng Zhou airport?” I was sure I was not the only person facing the problem. I asked the flight attendant to broadcast on the flight and asked for all passengers who want to transit to Luoyang to come to me. Unexpectedly, about 20 persons signed up quickly. I asked everyone to hand in 50 RMB and contacted a bus driver in Zhengzhou and offered 1000 RMB for the trip – it is much higher than their normal price. BTW, I got the driver’s phone by calling my friends in Shanghai to Google “Bus Zhengzhou” to get the mobile numbers. Haha. It worked!
The rest of the story was simple – we waited for the bus and took it to Luoyang. I was the person in charge and sent almost everyone to their door. When I arrived my home in Luoyang as the last passenger, my family was welcoming me at the door – it was about 11:30 PM of the New Year’s Eve. Thank God! I finally showed up at the dinner table. To be home for Spring Festival was well worth the trouble.
BTW, the other passengers were so kind that they asked me to keep my part of the bus fee for the organizing work. They said it is much better than spending hundreds of Yuan in a hotel in Zhengzhou, on the New Year’s Eve.