Putting down a year's weariness, one out of 10 Chinese people again embark on the road home. Endless waits, crowds of people, filthy air, every part of the journey difficult. The brave people returning home, bear upon their bodies the gray memories of China's Chun Yun.
Chun Yun is the world’s largest regular migration of people. It occurs every year around the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival holiday. Chun Yun can be translated as “Spring Festival Rush” or “Spring Festival Migration”. Below are some photographs capturing scenes of this yearly phenomenon from 1995 till this year 2011. You can click on the photos for a larger version and slideshow.
Remembering Chun Yun in Gray
"Chun Yun" has been called history's largest periodic human migration. Within a span of around 40 days, over 2 billion trips are made. Photo is of 2008 where passengers were delayed at the Guangzhou Railway Station due to snowstorms.
2001 Chun Yun period, a woman exhausted in the ticket lines.
1999 Chun Yun period, a migrant worker feels unwell due to the crowding.
1999 Chun Yun period, a little boy rides on his father's shoulders in a stream of people.
2000 Chun Yun period, a train platform attendant helps travelers get off the train through the train's windows.
2002, Beijing Railway Station, because the train car is so crowded the doors can't shut, a train worker must use force to pull passengers off the train.
2002 Chun Yun period, within a crowded train car, a little boy screams from squeezed.
2006 Chun Yun period, a mother sleeps deeply while holding her child inside a train car.
2001 January 19th, the K282 train from Shanghai to the southwest region of the country was 3x overcapacity, with the passengers squeezed beside the toilets not moving for nearly 50 hours, and those having to use the toilet having to wait 2 hours and more.
1999 Chun Yun, Zhuzhou Railway Station, on a train from Henan, an old man who could bear being squeezed no longer jumps off the train, begging help from the police. The old man's son did not jump down from the train, and was transported to Guangdong.
1995 January 19th, Guangzhou Railway Station, because of the large amount of travelers, a freight boxcar temporarily served as a passenger train car.
2003 Chun Yun period, a passenger who had suddenly died in the train car was carried out onto the station platform.
2003, Guangzhou Railway Station, a couple holding each other and weeping after having lost their money and train tickets.
2006 January 20th, light rain at the Guangzhou Railway Station, Cao uses a thin plastic sheet to cover his head as he waits for his train in the wind and rain waiting for his train to Wuchang. His train departs at 3am in the middle of the night and since there are still 11 hours until it leaves, he is unable to enter the station yet.
2008 February 1st, southern ice storms caused disruptions to the railway lines, with hundreds of thousands of passengers delayed outside of the Guangzhou Railway Station.
2008 February 2nd, outside the Guangzhou Railway Station, a large amount of police maintain order.
2008 January 30th, light rain in Guangzhou, a delayed passenger raises his head from under the umbrellas.
2008 January 31st, outside the Guangzhou Railway Station plaza, a passenger who had fainted amongst the crowd is lifted up and carried to help.
2008 February 1st, the mess outside the Guangzhou Railway Station plaza.
2010 January 20th, at the temporary train ticket purchasing point at the Ningbo Exhibition Center, in the middle of a long line, young Liang Xiangui from Guangxi has fallen asleep while leaning over the divider. This is the first time he will be going home in the past three years.
2011 January 19th, Ningbo East Railway Station's temporary waiting area is filled with waiting passengers, with many of the passengers having brought blankets to sleep on the ground.
2011 January 19th, Beijing West Railway Station, at a temporary ticketing window, a passenger prepares to buy a train ticket.
2011 January 18th, Jiaxing in Zhejiang province, a migrant worker holds the train ticket he just purchased between his chapped and cracking fingers, showing it to someone who is also from his hometown that is still waiting in line. Officials estimate that 2.85 billion trips will be made during the 2011 Chun Yun period, and with continued rain, snow, and freezing weather conditions, China's transportation system once again faces a huge challenge.