Traveling Miles Home for the Lunar New Year (Updated with Photos)

Having started on January 19 and lasting till February 27, the 40 day spring migration for the 2011 lunar new year has finally begun. Many are scrambling to buy train tickets home. Some must resort to buying scalped tickets. Chen Yong reports on the underground networking of ticket scalpers, for Economic Observer:

An insider who has worked for many years at the train station in express transport says, if you want to sell tickets at the Beijing and Beijing West Railway Stations, aside from keeping your eyes and ears open, you will need to know the underground network of people who live and work in the railway station. This cast of characters includes other scalpers, couriers, thieves, beggars and more. They all know each other, and they each have their own territory. Famous, long-established gangs at Beijing Railway station include the “Northwest Wolves” and the “Northeast Pack.”

The source mentioned above claims that most scalpers at the Beijing Railway Station are from Anhui Province and the northeast. But at Beijing West, most scalpers come from the south. People from different provinces occasionally clash and sometimes violently, but their fights are usually stopped by the station staff or gang leaders.

The source also said that if you want to join the railway station community you must recognize the different gangs and determine the relationship between the gangs and the station. You must also become familiar with the appearance and contact information of police and staff at the station. This is the only way to survive.

Update: Southern Weekend has a collection of the massive springtime migration, or 春运 (chunyun), for lunar new year. Here is a small selection of photos, with captions translated by CDT:


On January 18, a worker rushes for his train at the Hangzhou Train Station. He is bearing his belongings on a pole, and toting his child on his back. According to the introduction [to this photo series], the Zhejiang area alone will have up to 10,102,000 travelers — an increase of 14.1%.


A Liaoning worker, Mr. Bai, says farewell to his parents who are returning home to Gansu on January 18. Inside the train car, the parents write “take care” in [the condensation of] the window.

January 21, 2011 9:17 PM
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Categories: Society