I learned a new Chinese word a couple days ago, and it was an easy one to remember because I’ve personally been able to observe and experience it for the past week. Chunyun refers to the large increase of traffic during the Spring Festival (also known as Chinese Year) the most important holiday in China. It is a HUGE travel rush. It is seen in all forms of transportation- on the roads, in the buses and subways and on the trains and planes.
What I saw?
I don’t think I saw many travelers on the local buses, but I sure did see a lot of shoppers preparing for the holiday. I imagine the long distance buses were another story and were filled with people heading back to their hometowns.
Every time I got on the subway this past week, I saw at least one person with a large bag and/or suitcase. But usually, there were so many more! Sometimes half or almost all of the subway car was filled with travelers.
Luckily, I didn’t experience the airport during this holiday season because I’m sure it is horribly inconvenient. Fingers crossed that I will continue to avoid it.
And, just last night, I experienced train travel during chunyun. Though it was busy, I know I missed the rush. We were part of the last minute group catching trains before the eve of the Spring Festival. I’ve read that train travel can have the most difficulties during chunyun so I was lucky to have the experience I did…oh except for the fact that my phone was stolen. Thanks for starting my holiday off right, thief.
You’d think the crowds would drive me crazy because quite frankly they usually do. And, there are definitely some legitimate complications that occur because of the high increase of travel. But, I finally found the holiday spirit that I had been looking for during Christmas. Instead of being frustrated by the numerous shopping bags brushing or pushing against me, I felt happy seeing the generous spirit of people buying gifts for their family. Instead of being annoyed by the large crowds of people gathered in and pushing through subways, I was glad to see people traveling home to be with their families. It’s cheesy, but I’m a sucker for holiday spirit.
Unfortunately, my patience with crowds and pushing will probably only last as long as the holiday does.