Monday, March 23, 2015

Hangzhou to Shanghai - The Migration

Hangzhou to Shanghai - The Migration: For Chinese New Year, about 250 million Chinese travel by car, plane, train, and bus to be home for the holidays (or recently to enjoy a vacation holiday) creating what is called the Great Human Migration. One month after Chinese New Year 2015 as Sun-Ling and I walked along Platform 3 at the Hangzhou South Train Station passing car 17, then 16, then 15, on our way to car 4 to catch the train to Shanghai I realized that every day is in fact a Great Human Migration in China. 

Our Platform 3 companions  toted suitcases, backpacks similar to ours, young children, huge sacks, boxes, and shoulder poles. We piled into the 17 cars consisting of sleepers (this train's final destination is Inner Mongolia) and hard seats (ie normal seats). Our car had 118 seats - all full . I had seat number 118. In addition some standing-room-only tickets are sold after the seats are full. A quick check online shows over 120 trains daily from Hangzhou to Shanghai. Slow rains like ours to Shanghai South Station take over 2 hours; the high-speed trains to Shanghai Hongqiao Airport take 55 minutes.

It's quite a show inside car 4. The conductor comes through checking tickets. Our car 4 attendant moves a huge sack from the overhead rack to under the seat to improve safety. Here comes the mobile cart with snacks for sale. The young woman in the seat next to Sun-Ling lets her toddler walk mostly unattended in the aisle. Miraculously he does not hurt himself - fellow passengers are kind souls. 

Although the train is ultimately headed to Inner Mongolia, it seems that most of us in car 4 are going only as far as Shanghai. At every stop, people get off and on. The standers discretely slide into the emptied seats only to be booted out when a ticket holder comes on seconds or minutes later.  But that's all part of the game. The guy sitting next to me from the start turned out to be a stander when a ticker holder showed up after 90 minutes. And in fact it's even more complicated then I've described here as maybe you'll find out one day if you ride a slow, hard seat train in China. So goes the daily Great Human Migration.

Car 4 ticket check. Note that the old style hard, vinyl-covered, seats have been upgraded.

The guy across from me was a sharp dresser.

The high-speed and normal tracks come along side each other near Shanghai.

1 comment:

Liz said...

Are the headrest cloths on the back of the seats changed for each passenger?