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Journeys provide unusual adventures

By Luo Wangshu  (China Daily)

08:44, February 05, 2013

Travelers check their luggage on an expressway in Hunan province on Saturday. They all work in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and shared a car to return to their homes in Huaihua, Hunan province, for Spring Festival. Many people are considering alternatives to travel home during the annual rush. [Photo/China Daily)

Key Words: Spring Festival, Migration, Travel Rush

As the countdown to Spring Festival begins, a sea of people travel home using the quickest, or cheapest, way possible — usually planes, trains and automobiles.

For some travelers during this annual mass migration, however, the journey is more important than the destination. Instead, they choose slower modes of transportation, such as bicycles or even walking.

Three people who opted for an unconventional adventure tell their stories.

By Motorbike | Zhou Shiliang

Note: Zhou Shiliang, 39, is a painter at a furniture factory in Fujian province. He and his wife have made the 400-km trek to his hometown in Jiangxi province for Chinese New Year on a motorbike every year for the past five years.

I can find my way home with my eyes closed.

Usually I set off from Fuzhou in Fujian province early morning, 3 or 4 am. That way, I can arrive at my family's home in Jiangxi province's Nancheng county before dark. The trip takes 10 to 12 hours.

Riding a motorbike with my wife sitting behind me is a cheap way to go home. It costs about 100 yuan ($16) for gas and food for two of us, one way, while a bus ticket for the same journey would cost more than 200 yuan for each person.

Train tickets are cheap, but they are extremely difficult to get. For the first five years in Fuzhou, I spent night and day in lines at the train station. Some people told me it's even more difficult now.

Although we're saving, riding a motorbike home is not easy. It's very tiring. We eat on the way, crackers or instant noodles, and we don't waste time. We want to see our daughter and my parents as soon as possible. If I could ride a rocket, I'd fly home. We take three or four breaks during the trip, usually less than 20 minutes each time.

It's also not the safest way home. Early morning, before sunrise, I try to keep below 60 km an hour, but I always feel the need to rush and sometimes hit 80 km an hour during the daytime.

We have to keep a close eye on the weather, too. I double-check the forecasts, and if it's raining I have to be extra careful to prevent sliding. For safety, most years we've traveled as part of a group. It allows us to look out for each other.

Last year was slightly different, however. We took part in an activity organized by PetroChina that provided help for migrant workers who rode motorbikes home for Spring Festival. I led a five-bike team, 10 people in all.

We were given free fuel and life insurance. I'd never bought the insurance before, and I don't even know how much it costs. I just imagined it was too expensive. During the trip, one rider got lost and I had to wait two hours. When I arrived home, it was dark, about 8 or 9 pm. Zhou Shiliang spoke to reporter.

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