While some well-to-do young Chinese have opted out of the smog and drudgery of rapid urbanization by moving from overpopulated cities to free-spirited towns in the southwestern countryside, others have found fleeting escape from the breakneck competition of urban life in travel. A post from Tea Leaf Nation profiles 36-year-old Zhang Xinyu, an entrepreneur from Beijing whose wanderlust has been recorded in a popular serial documentary [zh], noting that the dream of dropping-out is unattainable for many metropolitan Chinese:
The desire to take a travel sabbatical has become so prevalent among white-collar urban Chinese that it’s almost cliché. According to a viral tweet on Weibo, there are now four typical yuppie dreams: “Opening up a café in the city, quitting one’s job to travel in Tibet, running a small inn in Lijiang, and biking to Lhasa.” (Lijiang is a tourist town in southwest China; Lhasa is the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, a popular destination for well-heeled Chinese, despite the region’s severe ethnic tensions.) One Internet user posted photos in July 2013 purporting to show a traffic jam of expensive mountain bikes on the Chengdu-to-Lhasa section of Route 318, a 1,300-mile road through remote regions at altitudes as high as 16,400 feet. “It’s crowded like a street market,” the user claimed.
But to many young Chinese struggling to find a job or support their families, a sabbatical seems like a luxury that only the fu’erdai – “rich second generation,” which refers to the children of the wealthy and connected — can afford. One user commented on Weibo, “I have parents to support. I can’t do a ‘naked resignation’ without a rich daddy.” Another user cautioned against such seeming indulgence: Quitting to travel, she wrote, “is wasting your best years on frivolous pursuits, not a good idea unless you are prepared to be single forever and have no family to support and be responsible for.” […] [Source]