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Expats skip travel for fun in the capital

By Tiffany Tan (China Daily)

08:59, February 08, 2013

Two young musicians from the United States learn to make dumplings from residents of a community in Nantong, Jiangsu province, on Jan 26. To celebrate Spring Festival, they will also stage a show in a bar in the city, incorporating their experience of local customs into the music. (Xinhua/Huang Zhe)

Key Words: expat; travel; Lunar New Year; Spring Festival

While millions of travelers squeeze their way into buses, trains and planes this Lunar New Year holiday, Tobal Loyola will be busy playing video games at a friend's home.

The 30-year-old Filipino resident of Beijing initially wanted to travel to Los Angeles or Montreal, but he was also happy to stay home when he couldn't get the flights he wanted.

2013 Spring Festival Special

"I think it was a blessing in disguise that I didn't end up flying this season," he said in an e-mail from Seattle. "I get to relax really well and not think about packing and flying."

Loyola, you see, works as cabin crew for Hainan Airlines and spends up to two-thirds of his time on a plane or in a foreign city.

At a time when China sees its largest internal migration annually — a record 3.41 billion trips are projected around this Lunar New Year — Loyola welcomes the opportunity to stay away from the crowds and set a record of his own.

From Thursday to Sunday, he expects to spend half his waking hours on a Nintendo Wii video game console, battling about a dozen foreign and Chinese friends on Mario Sports Mix, The Legend of Zelda and Super Smash Bros Brawl.

In 2010, he and the same friends organized their first Spring Festival Wii challenge, and Loyola took the third place. Now he's determined to grab the top spot.

"That was three years ago. So much practice has happened since then," Loyola said.

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