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Road to nowhere is route to despair

By Jiang Xueqing and Hu Yongqi (China Daily)

09:30, October 09, 2012

Visitors to Baiyun Park in Guiyang, Guizhou province, experience a hair-raising moment on Saturday. But speed and thrills are not normally associated with holiday travel as severe traffic congestion and overcrowding blighted the experience of many. (China Daily)

Traffic jams and overcrowded sites leave many feeling they hit a dead end during the holiday, report Jiang Xueqing and Hu Yongqi in Beijing.

Crawling along at just a few kilometers an hour, Jiang Qian, a 25-year-old tour guide, and her group of 49, were trapped in a traffic jam for more than 18 hours on Oct 3. They were traveling from Kunming in Yunnan province to Lijiang, a well-known regional tourist spot.

Vehicles carrying tourists from across the country packed the mountain road, making it a huge parking lot, said Jiang. With no stores or bathrooms en route, people were famished and were forced to "do their business in bushes on the side of the road".

Instead of arriving at Lijiang at 8 pm, the group finally made it to their destination at 4 am the following morning.

"People kept complaining, saying they wouldn't have come if we'd warned them about the traffic," said Jiang, who lost her voice explaining the situation to angry tourists. "We had no idea the traffic would be that bad."

Jiang said she had fewer customers than last year and most of the vehicles on the road were private cars. Some had traveled from Guizhou and Sichuan, and even further afield, from Heilongjiang province.

"I have been traveling this route for five years, and have never seen worse," she said.

The nation's roads were toll-free for the first time during the National Day holiday, from Sept 30 to Oct 7, for vehicles of seven seats or fewer. The new policy prompted many to take to the roads, but eventually the long delays caused chaos.

According to the China Highway Information Service, eight major expressways were still jammed on Oct 7, when the holiday officially ended. Experts said the traffic and tourism authorities should learn the lesson and be better prepared in future.

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