The Spring Festival Motorcycle Army

If you live in China, all you have to do is step onto the street to experience what chunyun, the rush of Chinese people on all forms of transportation to get home for Spring Festival, is all about. And while the holiday has already started this year, if you don’t live in the South, you may have missed one of the biggest chunyun spectacles.

According to this article, over 100,000 migrant workers from the “Pearl Triangle” area (cities like Foshan, Dongwan, and Guangzhou) grouped together to become “the great returning-home motorbike army”. They strapped on warm clothes and important possessions, bundled up their family members, headed onto the highways en masse to get home for the holiday.

To ensure their safety, especially in treacherous weather conditions, they were guided by 20,000 police officers as they rode together down highway 321. The police also set up special rest stops where motorbike drivers could relax and warm their hands. The reporter also said he saw police officers distributing raincoats and umbrellas at one of the rest stops.

Unsurprisingly, the reporter found three general reasons these migrant workers had opted to join “the great returning-home motorbike army”: “the road was nearby, [train and bus] tickets are expensive, and [train and bus] tickets are hard to come by.” The reporter spoke to two men sharing a motorbike on their way home to Guigang, who told him that:

There are no direct trains, two tickets on a bus would cost 600 RMB one-way [about $88 US], but driving a motorbike home is only 100 RMB [about $14 US] including gas expenses and tolls. Saving five-sixths of their expenses, they could save 1000 RMB total.

Apparently, the pair has been doing the ten-hour drive together for the past four or five years, and consider it worthwhile.

A video report on the motorbike army (in Chinese) is available here.

We hope everyone is enjoying a happy and safe Spring Festival so far. Thanks to commenter jsyang for suggesting this story.

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0 thoughts on “The Spring Festival Motorcycle Army”

  1. Being from the gas-guzzling ‘take fuel for granted and destroy nations to get it’ part of the western world, this story humbles me and also gives me a feeling of warmth. In small things we are all brothers and sisters and we travel together. Thanks for the story.

    Like

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