A Chinese migrant worker's road home

08:17, January 31, 2011      

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In good weather, it was a roughly 40 minute walk from the entrance into Gaoshan Village to Ge Qiyong's home, but Ge and his wife spent an hour last Monday on the icy path for the last leg of their 2,000-kilometer-journey for their Spring Festival family reunion.

Their journey started last Saturday with two train tickets.

Previously, they used to travel on buses, which is more expensive than trains but faster, and at least guarantees them seats.

However, the repeated snow and ice disasters that hit China's southwest regions from the beginning of this year had trapped many coaches on the highways.

They therefore had to queue for train tickets, since trains were unaffected by icy weather.

The couple were only able to purchase two standing-room-only tickets to board a train in a city around 300 kilometers from Taizhou, where they both worked at a shoe factory in eastern China's Zhejiang Province.

Along with nearly 500 passengers with the same kind of tickets, they boarded the already-crowded carriages.

Two-thirds of the people did not have a seat, said 40-year-old Ge. The carriage aisle was too crowded to allow a snack trolley to pass and people had to stand while taking a nap, he said.

The couple barely slept during the 32 hours on board.

It was about one clock on Monday morning when they finally left the train, with their feet tingling, at Tongzi station in southwestern China's Guizhou Province.

A minivan took them to their village entrance, where they spent the rest of that night at a relative's place before the hour-long march to their own home.

That was a typical travel experience during China's annual Spring Festival travel rush that transports millions of migrant workers home.

K-1251, the train the couple took, links Shanghai and Chongqing from the east to the west.

Along with the direction of that line, millions of migrant workers living in relatively underdeveloped western regions poured into the east coast regions for jobs and constitute the main force of the massive migrating population before the Spring Festival, the most important family reunion for Chinese, which falls on Feb. 3 this year.

As of Sunday, about half of the villagers who worked in the east had returned, according to Wu Ruzhong, a chief of Gaoshan village, adding that many of the others were unlikely to make it home this year.

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