Migrant Workers Buy Expensive High-Speed Train Tickets Home

The family is talking happily on the train.

A family photo Gao Changliang and his family took.

From QQ:

A Family of Four That Hasn’t Returned Home for Four Years Because of Work Finally Decide to Buy High-Speed Rail Tickets for Children’s Sake

The day before they set out from Guangzhou, a family photo of Gao Changliang and family in their rented residence. After the Chinese [Lunar] New Year, his wife and children will all be staying in their hometown in Henan, and then it’ll be difficult for them to see each other (picture taken on January 17). The 31-year-old Gao Changliang came to work in Guangzhou from Henan Anyang in 2008, and makes a living driving a taxi. He and his wife Gao Qingfang, 6-year-old daughter Gao Zihan, and 4-and-a-half-year-old son Gao Zihao live as a family of four in an “urban village” [ghetto] far from Guangzhou’s downtown, and it has already been four years since they’ve gone back to their hometown to to celebrate Spring Festival.

Getting on the train.

Left photo: His first time on a high-speed train, Gao Changliang boards lugs his heavy luggage aboard, momentarily panicking a bit because he couldn’t find the rack for stowing large pieces of luggage. Right photo: Gao Qingfang (first from the right) walks into the rail station with the kids, her daughter Gao Zihan (first from the left) looking around curiously (composite photo taken January 18). In the blink of an eye, their daughter has reached the age for elementary school, so Gao Changliang and his wife have decided to bring their kids back to their hometown this year to spend Spring Festival with the entire family. To save on expenses, his wife Gao Qingfang and the two children will remain in their hometown after the Spring Festival. Gao Changliang says: “We don’t want to do this but still have to… It’s better for them to grow up at home. After all, they eventually have to come home. Can’t stay out there forever… I’m just thinking about making a bit more money here, then buy a house back home as soon as possible. Housing prices are too steep nowadays, still have to wait a few more years.”

The two kids are absorbed by the view outside the window.

As the train enters Henan territory, the sun is setting, and the two kids are absorbed by the view outside the window (photo taken on January 18). Because they had missed the best time to buy tickets, were not familiar with the latest ticket booking methods, and after they had repeatedly attempted to book tickets online and over the phone without success, Gao Changliang and some of his fellow-villagers put their last sliver of hope on going to a ticketing booth to stand in line to buy tickets. After visiting several ticketing booths, the result was still disappointing: The ordinary trains going to Anyang only had standing-room-only tickets left. Therefore, going home via high-speed rail became their only option. Gao Changliang says: “At first, we really didn’t want to, because each ticket costs 710 yuan. In the past it only cost 377 yuan each if we opted for a sleeping berth, so this is nearly double.” However, seeing that the time to return home was drawing near, and in order to spare the kids from suffering on the road, Gao Changlaing ultimately brought himself to buy the high-speed rail tickets to Anyang. 2013 January 18, Gao Changliang and his family of four finally began their high-speed rail journey home…

The husband and the wife are attracted by the TV program on the high-speed rail train.

Gao Changliang (second from the right) and his wife Gao Qingfang (first from the right) watching the TV program on the high-speed rail train. The two kids, being very curious about everything both inside and outside the train, can’t settle themselves down for even one second (photo taken on January 18).

The family is talking happily on the train.

The family of four talking happily on the train (photo taken on January 18).

"The food is too expensive."

When it came time to eat, Gao Changliang (first on the left) is seen looking at the food car’s menu for a long time (photo taken on January 18). “A simple box lunch costs 45 yuan, too expensive.” He says.

Gao Zihan is getting off the train.

After 7 hours of travel, the train arrived at Anyang East Station, and daughter Gao Zihan who has already put on her thick cotton-padded coat is stepping out of the carriage with the help of a stewardess (photo taken on January 18).

Gao's big family.

In Henan Anyang City Longan District Matoujian Town Shangxiadong Village, Gao Changliang’s entire family has finally been reunited (photo taken on January 18). Photographed by Xinhua News Agency reporter Liang Xu.

Comments from NetEase:

腾讯网友 冷雨:

Whether you’re rich, or poor, you return home for Spring Festival. It’s tradition.

腾讯网友 小崔:

From this we can see just how much the ticket price for high-speed rail doesn’t fit the circumstances of the people.

腾讯北京市网友 月亮之上:

Where can we buy ordinary tickets for trains that start off from Guangzhou to the North? They have all been “high-speed railed”. Yesterday I checked the recent high-speed rail tickets to Wuhan, and there were only business class left…

腾讯网友 洋杨扬阳:

Parents’ love is unconditional, bless you.

腾讯网友 397186401:

May all migrant workers be safe and happy! Because of your efforts, our cities are more beautiful.

腾讯镇江市网友 芳芳:

All in all, this is still caused by unbalanced economic development. If all areas were developed, who would leave home to go earn money elsewhere!

腾讯盘锦市网友 老衲清缘:

To leave home and work in a city thousands of miles away just to survive [make a living] is indeed not easy! As the prices of goods rise, it’s even more difficult, where traveling and eating all require one to carefully calculate and budget! A lunch box costs 45 yuan. What kind of lunch is it that costs so much money! I suggest they prepare high, middle, and low class meals on high-speed rail trains in the future, for different groups of people! If it’s all high-priced meals, what are poor travelers supposed to do? And with ticket prices already that high! After buying the tickets, there’s not much money left, and you want them to buy high-priced meals? Some people just can’t afford it! After years of having not returned home, everyone thinks all the more of their loved ones during holidays, and what parents look forward to is simply for the entire family to spend the new year together! Finally, may Mr. Gao and his family have a happy new year! And a happy life, too!

腾讯网友 火线姐:

Seeing photos like this, I can’t hold my tears. There are a few details that interest me: First is the extremely clean clothes the husband and wife are wearing, and the pretty cotton–padded coat the little girl is wearing as she gets off the train. These make me feel that even though they are not really city folk, but at least by being in the city, they have through their own industrious two hands and hard work attained a certain degree of material comfort, and to have these comforts is what we ordinary people call “small success” [in life]; Second is the happy faces of the two kids, and that the mother will be staying with them in Henan, showing us that normally they don’t lack clothes and food [basic necessities] and have their parents’ love, not like many “left behind” children in both the cities and rural areas [left with grandparents or relatives while parents work away from home as migrant workers], alone and without anyone to depend on; Third is that the husband and the wife have arranged their life in order, with one working, and one staying behind [to take care of the family]. Many of us are like them, neither too rich nor too poor, neither too good nor too evil, just doing out best, step by step, trying to live a good life.

腾讯网友 心在天堂:

The Ministry of Railways laughs: Who says people aren’t able to get tickets? Don’t you see them here [in this photo series], and they are even sitting tickets [as opposed to standing tickets].

腾讯上海市网友 淡淡楚墨: (responding to above)

They got tickets, but a month’s hard-earned money is also gone.

腾讯温州市网友 夕阳红: (responding to 心在天堂)

The Ministry of Railways laughs, migrant workers cry!

腾讯太原市网友 云淡风轻: (responding to above)

In the past, a ticket home cost 99 yuan, and even a sleeping berth cost at most 145 yuan, but now there’s only high-speed rail.

腾讯网友 感觉刹那:

Look at how happy this big family is.

What hardships have you endured to get home for an important holiday?


Written by Peter Barefoot

Peter is a born and raised Chengdunese who enjoys drinking with all his friends.


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