Migrant Workers Buy Expensive High-Speed Train Tickets Home

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?

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  • Red Scarf

    The cost of modernization. A friend of mine had the same complaint. That the line she had to use from Shanghai to her hometown was a high speed line.

    The journey wasn’t quicker, because of the increased number of stops the train now made, which didn’t decrease the time, plus it cost more.

    Oh BTW sofa.

  • Red Scarf

    The price of modernization. Happen to a friend as well. She couldn’t take another other train home from Shanghai to her hometown because they been scrapped to make way for the HSR. IN the end it took the same amount of time because more stops where involved, more money, and the price was increased as well.

    Oh btw sofa.

    • Brett

      I doubt it took the same amount of time, there isn’t a high speed line in China that isn’t much much faster than the normal slow train.

    • Just wonder. I am not even Chinese, but I know during spring-festival to buy the tickets as soon as possible. There are people even waiting some hours at a train-station to buy those tickets.

      I also do not think it is the fault of the ministry of railways. Like you said, that is the price of modernization.

      I remember we wanted to take a train back from Xian to Beijing. We went to the train-station 3 days before we departed. Only Hardseater-Seats were left. 13 hours on a hardseater with some totally rude people beside us. Never again!

      What I am kinda wondering is, was the Xinhua News Reporter with them the whole time? If yes, it just seems a bit odd to me…

  • Very cute

  • Brett

    If you treasure your soul, don’t travel during spring vacation in China. Just stay home for 30 days.

    • Germandude

      Even at home you are not safe… I am living on the 16th floor. Do you understand what that means? Well let me explain to you: Rockets explode between the 15th and the 20th floor. And during Chinese New Year, Chinese will shoot rockets. Trillions of them. Usually between 8 pm until 2 am. And when you think that it’s time to sleep, you just fell asleep, some drunk guy came home and lightens up his “Mao’s Revenge” firecracker belt with 500 Chinese firecrackers that sound like a machinegun.
      Eventually, you wake up but manage to fall asleep again. The first guys leave early in the morning, around 5 am and before visiting their parents in law, they lighten the “Mao’s Long March” firecracker belt. That’s 500 explosions that sound like mininukes. The Chinese way of saying “Good morning” during CNY.

      I bought a very confortable wireless headset that I wear while sleeping, listening to German radio streamed through the internet. On very low level. Luckily, that headset is absorbing most of the noises from outside. Otherwise I would end up being deaf.

      • linette lee

        Mao’s Revenge” firecracker belt with 500 Chinese firecrackers…………

        hahhaa….lol You are killing me.

        • ManofEarth

          the only one killing itself is u – lil hairless traitor – laugh on lil stew

          • vincent

            I’d pay to see you put 500 crackers in your arse and then light them :D

      • Kate

        Ear plugs and thick curtains don’t help?

        • Germandude

          That’s like relying on your airbag while falling down a cliff… ;-)

      • thmswhnr

        The environment is a lot like I imagine a war zone being – sporadic machine gun fire, the whistling of an incoming shell, the thunderous explosion, the screams of those who sacrificed their hands and/or faces for the cause of scaring away the mythical 年 beast…

        • Hongwu

          in the end, every stuff kinda resemlbes and war scenario right?
          that’s our Imperial Ambitions and absolute desire for War!! [or not… who knows?]

      • rollin wit 9’s

        Im with linette, lmao; fckn ‘Mao’s Revenge’ firecracker haha!!!

        • China’s answer to Montezuma’s

      • Dr Sun

        +3 on that, lmao

      • ScottLoar

        Yep, every Chinese New Year’s I watch the building across from ours get bombarded with rockets and flames smashing against the walls, looking like some medieval army besieging a walled city. My friend who lives on the 20th floor of a high-rise gets at least one cracked window every New Year. And I cannot appreciate the idiots lighting off boomers at daybreak on New Year’s day, but I suppose death-by-a-thousand-cuts is worse (yeah?).

        • Nowenluan

          Really? Which cities are you guys in? All the fireworks here have been banned.

          • ScottLoar

            This guy is in Shanghai and I don’t know where your “here” is. Fireworks may have been limited in Shanghai, perhaps banned I couldn’t say, but I can say for years past and last year the crescendo on New Year’s eve approaching midnight has not diminished, neither have the boomers just before daybreak. Every high-rise puts out fireworks before its entrance; boxed and lit the fireworks go off like a rocket launcher in sequence, like a Stalin Organ.

            I’ll tell you what happens this year.

          • Nowenluan

            Xiamen – It does feel pretty insulated on average from the rest of China.

        • Hongwu

          There was one day rly back then, on Ningbo, my friend almost got one of those ‘death chains’ [many firecrackers chain-linked together] up on his leg… the only reason he didnt say he had some real ninja skill was in fear of someone accusating the guy of supporitng japanese history.

          In general I advice an good medieval/song-dynasty armor with fire-proof clothing below it, and maybe you’re welll protected.

      • linette lee

        You mean the whole city like this during chinese new year. Night and day. lol..


        I am surprised nothing caught on fire. In HK they are not allowed to do that.

        • linette lee

          I can only imagine it must be very dangerous for the birds during february month in china. Half of the month is chinese new year with millions chinese shooting rockets into the sky.

          The migrating birds probably mark it on their navigation map red zone territory in China and don’t fly there. Take another route.

          • MrT

            Japan should do the same.

          • cb4242

            Oh, he’ll NO!

          • Pete

            It’s also not a very good time for small excitable dogs.

        • ScottLoar

          Hong Kong prohibited fireworks because of the riots in ”67 (I think it was ’67). Before then I remember strings of firecrackers hanging down from 20 and 30-storey high-rises, each 15 minutes and more of continuous explosion. I’ve never since seen anything like it.

      • sensible

        stay the fuck home in your own country then

      • Jixiang

        My god, you people are negative. I have spent four spring festivals in China, and I spent every single one of them as a guest in the home of a Chinese friend. Two times I was in a small town (in Guizhou and Liaoning), and two times in a village in the deep countryside (in Guanxi and Shanxi). I had great fun, eat great food, and there were not that many firecrackers or fireworks either. Yes, the living conditions were a bit harsh, especially when I stayed in the countryside, but overall I had great experiences, which I detail in my blog.

        You people apparently just stay in your flat in some high rise in Beijing or Shanghai, and complain about the noise. What’s more you encourage others to do the same. Get out more!

        • No offense by the way.

        • ScottLoar

          We’re just laughing at the situation and laughing at ourselves as well, so simmer down, 吉祥, simmer down. Everyone rushes to claim the most authentic experiences among the real people, sharing the life of the common people as a good Maoist would say, hard benching with the locals in the deep countryside, and we’ve all done it. After countless Chinese New Years over two continents and seven countries (US – and Hawaii, Taiwan, China, Vietnam – three times no less, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong) I for one just look forward to a quiet time at home. After all the dinners before and those coming after I just want to spend time at my home with my wife. This is your time, your season, so live it to the fullest; I’m more than willing to let everyone have their day. Go write it up in your blog, 吉祥, write it up to titillate the others. Many mainland Chinese choose to spend this time overseas so go ahead and give them a few kicks as well if it makes you feel better.

      • Hongwu

        Commander: Behold the Mao’s Revenge: the supreme weapon of mass-genocide against the enemies of the State!!

        Subordinate: And who are we aiming to?

        Commander: I dunno, maybe the Japanese!

        Subordinate: yeaaah…

        Commander: CALL THE GENERAL!! I’ll just ignite this here and… ooops!

        Subordinate: there goes the 14th floor of that building…. ¬¬”

    • [email protected]

      Easy for you to say. You aren’t Chinese, Brett.

      • hun

        I’m pretty sure he meant it as a joke and you don’t have to be Chinese to travel to china during spring vacation.

        • [email protected]

          I meant about the not traveling during the spring festival, because it is so important to Chinese, that’s all. You know what I mean don’t you?

      • Brett

        Well, I didn’t write it in Chinese on a Chinese blog. It was written in English and directed at the English-speaking audience, many of whom are not Chinese.

        • [email protected]

          Fair enough, I will make all the necessary assumptions next time, Brett.

    • ManofEarth

      if u have no family at all – u better stay were u r – happy life to u though…

  • linette lee

    beautiful kids. So cute.

  • [email protected]

    Even though it would have cost him several months savings to afford this trip, he still got to make it, and the next trip will be different because he now has the benefit of knowing how things work.

    He will plan months ahead, (though the sinister transit authority in China doesn’t allow tickets to go on sale until very close to the date of the trip) he will arrange his own food for the trip (though I doubt he was ever actually going to buy food on the train anyway – that photo looked staged to me) and he will do things more cheaply.

    The fact that he got to go home at all is good, and the price for the high-speed ticket seemed cheaper than I expected, so I guess he didn’t travel far, which meant he probably could have found other ways to get home in a pinch anyway.
    The best part of this – he and his family didn’t freeze to death in a Train Station waiting for a train. Nice!

  • maybeabanana

    This cannot hold a candle to the ones featured in 2009’s Last train home.

    • YourSupremeCommander

      i saw that too, very moving… stories like that happens everyday, unfortunately.

      • Gay Azn Boi

        I’m curious…which article are you talking about?

        • YourSupremeCommander

          The dude said it in his post that I replied to.

          • Gay Azn Boi

            Lol I asked a simple question and some dick gave me a down vote. Honestly, I think some people on here will down vote my comment simply because I’m GAB. Haters gonna hate.

          • MrT

            I down voted you now just for saying that, so there.

          • Wick

            haha, me too

    • Gay Azn Boi

      Can you tell me which article you’re referring to?

      • maybeabanana

        Tis a movie you can probably pirate at the bay. IMDB will give you more info.

  • wafflestomp

    Sorry to be an ass, but if you can’t support kids don’t have them. Simple.

    • thmswhnr

      It’s not like they had kids in order to get the $500/month stipend from government welfare, as people often do in the West. There is no government welfare, and he’s not begging for people’s money. He’s working hard to make ends meet against these setbacks. He’s even planning to buy a house in a few years, so he’s not cripplingly impoverished or anything.

      • rollin wit 9’s

        I think what wafflestop (i know i spelled it wrong – keep reading) is getting at is that if you’re 31 and working at McD’s (equivalent to a migrant job on some levels) you got no business having kids. In china however its kid or bust. A big reason kids are brought into the mix is for insurance when the parents get older; they can be looked after. Reason 2 is anal grandparents to be have nothing to do but nag daughter to go have a baby, whether she’s ready or not. Its a repetitive, peer-pressure induced cycle if you ask me. I’ve seen the educated and better off fall victim to it all the time too in China.

        • Gay Azn Boi

          You need a license to drive a car but pretty much anyone can have kids. That’s kinda fucked up if you ask me.

          • ScottLoar

            So people should be licensed to have children, just like driving a car? Or properly vetted so that only those who meet a certain economic and physical standard can have children? Do tell me more. Perhaps you – like some governments – can also propose who should mate with who to ensure proper eugenics?

          • Gay Azn Boi

            Yes I do think people should be licensed to have children. A possible criteria would be that they meet a certain economic/financial/mental standard. It may sound unethical but it’s the only way to stop people from contributing more fucked up kids to society.

          • ScottLoar

            Your opinion is not common or even practicable let alone reasonable. Yes, it is unethical, but it is a typically Western viewpoint that assumes more and more fucked up kids come into society, and that cute dogs and porpoises by example are worth saving but not people.

            There is a line by W. Faulkner to the effect that there is a line at which law ends and people begin, and I can’t understand why you of all people in this forum, an admittedly homosexual asian male, would invite policing in the bedroom and vetting of children. Can you not understand this?

          • moody

            His opinion is quite common actually

            heard it more than several times, it is just not doable.

            but you can t disagree that it would be all for the well being of the kids.

            some fuckers clearly need their balls removed.

            Also what he says is not about “policing in the bedroom”

            you seem to often do that

            defend your point of view with something off topic yet slightly related

          • ScottLoar

            I never said or implied that his opinion was original. That
            the opinion is common does not make it valid. I agreed that it was not practicable; you say “doable”. Yes, some fuckers clearly need their balls removed, but that’s because they’re past the point of reasoning. He did not say “policing in the bedroom” because he hadn’t thought it through to that point, but the point is still eugenics even if he doesn’t know it or understand the word. Take “policing in the bedroom” as a euphemism, or literally “to keep in order; control; monitor” progeny. And, the bedroom is still the place where most men and women procreate.

            As to “the well being of the kids”, who are you to say which
            will be good, which bad, which will suffer, which will be happy? Who are you to decide which couple should have children, which not? Sure, there are children born to parents from hell, or abandoned, or abused, or twisted and warped by any number of human ways, but that does not warrant policing by the state. I mean, you can see the point, yes?

            Oh, by the way, stay away from my child and her life. Okay? None of your business, Bub.

          • moody

            “Okay ? none of your business”

            Why would you think i’d want to be involved in your kid’s upbringing ?

            What did i say that made you think that ???

            off topic much ? again ?

            GAB’s point is pretty clear to me, and even I find it clearly UNDOABLE, i do not find it so unreasonable.
            I do think you do not need to get your panty in a wad.

            Some families have kids and clearly don t take care of them properly

            Some even abuse them.

            and yet, all it takes for them to spawn a poor innocent being that will have to endure them is simply procreate.

            And no, it is has ONCE AGAIN, nothing to do with Eugenics

          • ScottLoar

            Moody: you can t disagree (vetting parents, requiring parents meet standard before being allowed to have children) that it would be all for the well being of the kids.

            Me: stay away from my child and her life. Okay? None of your business, Bub.

            Moody: Why would you think i’d want to be involved in your kid’s upbringing ? What did i say that made you think that ???

            Because you just supposed vetting parents is a good idea, i.e. “I do not find it so unreasonable” But, Moody, I do find it unreasonable and so say, stay away from my child and her life because it is none of your business. It is none of your business to suppose so in anyone’s life except your own.

            GAB originally said, and I need repeat again for your benefit, ” Yes I do think people should be licensed to have children. A possible
            criteria would be that they meet a certain economic/financial/mental
            standard.” That is a recipe for eugenics, no matter how much you deny so in capital letters. I defined eugenics for you; why are you so obtuse to this point?

          • Wick

            Do you think

            writing like this

            gives your arguments

            more validity?

          • moody

            My post clearly had no point other than to say that some person would certainly deserve not to be able to procreate.
            and i don t think i even need to validate myself as it clearly validate itself.
            LOOK AROUND

          • Wick

            “My post clearly had no point other than to say that some person would certainly deserve not to be able to procreate.”

            Isn’t that the entire point under discussion, saying that some people shouldn’t be able to procreate? I really hope we are talking about same thing here. I’d hate to look like an ass talking about apples when you’re talking bananas.

            And no, a valid argument does not become valid because you say it does.

          • moody

            I do not do it on purpose, maybe my web browser format the text that way, but it seems to happen only sometimes.
            Not sure what it’s about

          • Gay Azn Boi

            moody is one of the few wise men on here/

          • Gay Azn Boi

            I was making the simple point that there are TONS of people who are clearly not ready or responsible enough to have kids, but have them anyways and end up not being able to care for them. Many kids eventually end up as a burden to society. What part of that do you disagree?

          • ScottLoar

            I cannot make my arguments clearer. Just go back and read the exchanges on this. Then, think. Then, read again. Then, think. Then…

          • Germandude

            “It may sound unethical but it’s the only way to stop people from contributing more fucked up kids to society.”
            Yes, the way I see it: Your parents did us all a great favor…

          • Guest

            Your parents should’ve put you in the oven the minute you were born.

          • Germandude

            Dude, you….are….so….mean…. I am speechless. How about you going back to daddy? It’s hugging time again.

          • Wick

            Are you completely incapable of saying anything reasonable? Like Scott said, you’re not thinking it through. What’s really fucked up is other people share the same kind of ill-thought out view as you. If you’ve ever read a history book before, you’d notice that this has been tried before through forced sterilizations based on eugenics and deemed inhumane and unethical. Having children is a human right, not a privilege like obtaining a driver’s license. I think spreading the wealth more evenly throughout a country is a better answer than making a child a monetary privilege.

          • Gay Azn Boi

            “Spreading the wealth…”
            Oh god…another socialist like Obama.

          • Wick

            LoL! I’m almost honored you compared me with the current president of the United States. But, nonetheless, pretty lame comeback. I guess it’s a bad thing to narrow the gap b/w the rich and poor. You’re not a family member of one of the 10,000+ corrupt Chinese officials fleeing with stolen money, are you? It would explain a lot if you were.

          • linette lee

            ………….licensed to have children and that they meet a certain economic/financial/mental standard……………….

            May actually work in the rural areas of china. They need extremely strict control of birth rate in rural areas of China. Do not allow them to breed like rabbits.

            Too many of this.

            For China with their 600 millions plus poor rural people, it’s easier and less costly to monitor birth than to provide welfare and medical treatment for the mental and the injured later on. At the end you are protecting the innocent children from being born into poor family that can not put food on the table and be abused an killed by parents.

          • that sounds horrible… which is perfect for a movie

            about a young peasant girl born into a poor family with a small farm to sustain them. The family despises female. One day they have dispute with the neighbour. The neighbour salted their farm somehow and no crops grow. She always suffer abuse from the parents and male siblings. On the day the money run out they decided to kill her after a heated arguments. So she fled, still young maybe at 17, arrive at a big city and become a prostitute. Fell in love with a boy but after the boy find out he left her because apparently she sleeps with everyone but him. 10 years later she became the most popular prostitute…. and that shes actually a virgin (she deceive men with tricks that make them think they penetrated her, but they never). Then the scene of her retelling the story Titanic style to the reporter. I am certain many Chinese netizen will cry after watching this movie and may even win a few award.

            I can already imagine the quotes on the poster of this movie “thought provoking” “violent and passionate” “suffering at its finest” etc etc.

          • ScottLoar

            Improbable as it seems look to the sexual relationship between French diplomat Bernard Boursicot and Shi Pei Pu, a male Peking opera singer who for years pretended as a woman and was not discovered by the very man who was using him, or “her”. It was the basis for the play M. Butterfly (which I saw and think first-rate), and in subsequent interviews with Shi Pei Pu living in Paris he alludes to the deception. Yes, it really happened.

            The scenario you described in your post is actually quite famous, dating I think to popular theater in the Yuan Dynasty, but I’m open to correction.

          • Interesting. Through search engine I found that madame butterfly was inspired by an event that occur in Nagasaki, Japan. That madame butterfly might be a deviation of madame chrysanthemum. Did Pei Pu chose this story as a basis for his seduction of Bouriscot? did it mention in the interview or his seduction is accidentally the same with the story?

          • ScottLoar

            Shi Pei Pu was a homosexual Chinese opera singer who as a transvestite attracted and held a French diplomat named Bernard Boursicort by posing as a female lover. Their relationship lasted for years, Boursicort never suspecting he was really screwing another male. This actual incident inspired the play M. Butterfly which in turn loosely borrowed the name and theme of Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly which itself was loosely based on a real incident but that time between male and female. So, what we have is a sequence of art (the play M. Butterfly) imitating life (Boursicort’s love with Shi Pei Pu) imitating art (Puccini’s Madama Butterfly) imitating life (the incident in Nagasaki). Shi Pei Pu needed no inspiration to effect his trick; through Peking Opera he was skilled in female roles, by predilection he was homosexual, and by incident of Mao’s times he needed an escape. It all came together with the French diplomat Bernard Boursicort.

            (The famous aria from the opera remains untouched in beauty.)

          • Gay Azn Boi


          • moody

            Off topic
            Physical Standards ?
            Eugenics ?
            it obviously was not his point

          • ScottLoar

            Again, it was his point but he hadn’t though it through to the end. Parents are to be licensed to have children: “A possible criteria would be that they meet a certain economic/financial/mental standard”; his own words.

            Eugenics, “the science of improving the (esp. human) population by controlled breeding for desirable inherited characteristics”. Obviously you also haven’t thought it through.

          • moody

            Sorry I think i focused on the sentence “contributing more fucked up kids to society.”

            For what GAB said
            I certainly disagree with the Financial side of the argument.
            But Mental, honestly ?
            Can you disagree with that ?
            a person in no state to have a kid should not have one.

            A children needs attention care and love and if oneself is not going to provide those, or worse abuse them …..

            As you stated, you are a father, as I am, and therfore must know better.

            As for Eugenics, no i disagree, it still is not the point.

            Protecting the kids is.

            In no way it is about “improving the genetic composition of a population”

          • ScottLoar

            You insist vetting parents is a modest proposal, a necessity to the unborn, to keep those incapable of attention, care and love from having children. I ask, who decides, and by what standard? I say, look forward to the consequences, and you still insist it can be in no way about “improving the genetic composition of a population”?

          • vincent

            Reminds me of that movie Gattaca.

          • Gay Azn Boi


          • vincent

            GAB how’s it going? Chinese New year is creeping up on us all, I must prepare myself for the onslaught of fireworks that will no doubt test the bounds of my sanity, how are things with you?

          • Gay Azn Boi

            Lol that’ll be fun. I can’t stand all that noise either. Here in Toronto we have a huge Chinese population, but besides houses/malls putting up decorations there really isn’t much of the festive spirit that you’d see in China. Not much is going on with my life. Still working at my shitty job and my boss is giving me a hard time again. Oh well.

            Btw, just curious, you said you were eurasian, but you didn’t go into details. Can you be more specific? :)

          • vincent

            I’m of Portugeuse descent, doesn’t that make me Eurasian? lol I don’t reveal much about myself because it tends to blowback when one tries to make an argument. Hope you understand :D

          • Gay Azn Boi

            Omg that’s so cool! I think Portuguese guys are really sexy haha :p

          • vincent

            haha thanks, oh and ignore those comments by that turd nugget man ofearth he seems to think I’m a sissy little does he know I used to be a gym instructor at my old college, although after having a family I’ve become lazier.
            I’m started this exercise program called Tapout XT and hope to regain my former glory (too dramatic?) :P

          • Gay Azn Boi

            I bet you were a hunk back then haha :p

            Alright I gtg ttyl!

          • MrT

            a hard time? sounds like you are having fun!

          • Chinkcide

            Yeah, this driving-license thing indeed fucked up.

      • ScottLoar

        I agree; he’s working hard, he has a plan, and the two of them look happy with their children. The children look happy – no, excited at this first big experience in their lives – and healthy.The couple have two children, they more than anyone else understand the cost, but it is by their choice. Rather than accuse them of being dumb or at the desires of others why not allow the children are theirs because they wanted them?

  • Feel good silly story scripted by the writer. News agency probably paid for the tickets.

    Moreover, train tickets are sold in absolutely the most purposely idiotic way possible here, and the further you go, the less it makes sense not to spend 150 kuai extra for a flight that gets you there in less than half the time.

    • Archie

      Agreed. Nobody else thinks it’s odd a professional photographer tagged along and selected the photos they’d publish to help furnish a good news story. Read between the lines people.

    • Absolutely. Every story is a moral story. An ounce of truth isn’t worth a pound of disharmony.

      • Shouldn’t it be…. a pound of truth isn’t worth an ounce of disharmony?

        • Les Chines treats the truth like how I treat the spice saffron… a little bit of it usually goes too far.

  • rollin wit 9’s

    I still don’t get the issue of why tickets aren’t sold year round. They could use a ton of money today for selling tickets 1-2 years out. Run it like an airline. China is built on restriction though and thats the only way they know how to operate. Three most often used words in china. 1. 没有 2. 不会 3. 不可能

    • Germandude

      Ok, I will try to explain. What would happen, if train tickets were sold all year long? Exactly, some scumbags would purchase tons of tickets for the CNY festival and simply sell them through the black market. They would earn tons of extra money through it, because as you know, everybody wants to meet their families (especially parents their kids). They would basically pay any price asked as long as they could somehow afford it. The anger however, wouldn’t go to the black sellers, but towards the government not making sure that the average worker got his train ticket.
      In order to counter that, the train tickets are not sold that far in advance, usually 4-8 weeks iirc and it’s partly announced when which tickets go on sale so that migrant workers know when to go the train station to purchase them.

      Anyways, I have taken a soft sleeping night train once during CNY. It was acceptable probably because I was so god damn tired through my work that I basically slept the whole night through. (travel time 13 hours, price iirc: RMB 340)
      Another time, I took the night bus (travel time 9 hours, price iirc: RMB 280). Awful travel, it stunk in the bus, the driver was on the brinch of falling asleep multiple times, traffic was ok but people drove like shit. Scary, never again!
      Since then, I am only flying (travel time 1hour, price: approx. RMB 1000). Transit time however is unpredictable because of huge flight delays during CNY. Longest waiting time at the airport was 5 hours. And you can imagine the chaos on a CN airport during public holidays…

      If I wasn’t obliged visiting my parents in law, I would fly back to GER for a week or 2 (if adding some free days). NEVER EVER travel to Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong during CNY! It’s overrun by Chinese tourists and the flight prices are double the usual ones.

    • ScottLoar

      Agree with your list, but I think the all-purpose answer 沒有問題 to any need is the first clue to danger ahead.

    • Chinkicide

      4. 不了 5. 我也不知道

    • linette lee

      6.稍後會通知您 7. 如有錯誤,本公司絕不負責

    • 8. 对不起,不方便

      • moop

        my favorite is 没办法

        • That’s a goodie because it means the speaker has given up and accepted responsibility.

          That’s why you don’t hear it that often. That’s why I like my #8: it’s conciliatory, but at the same time a slap in the face for logic and civility.

  • MrT

    Lets face it the ticket price is worth it for the most excitement they will get this year, the train journey.

    for me, time to hibernate.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s something I noticed: Do Northerners usually call Chinese New Year ‘Spring Festival’?

    • Paul Schoe

      As with many Chinese words, they are a combination of the characters that they do have. Sometimes the meaning of the combination, is very difficult to decipher from the meaning of the individual characters. But often the combination does make sense (if you have some flexibility in thinking ;-) )

      As far as I know, the Chinese word from Chinese New Year is: 春節 (Chūnjié).
      If you take the individual characters, then you get:
      春 Spring
      節 Festival
      The two characters combined mean: Chinese New Year.

  • PixelPulse

    At least they were able to ride in style for a few hours, Im sure it’ll be the highlight of the next year or two.

  • willie miller

    First class on the G trains is excellent, worth paying a bit more for the extra comfort and leg room (for any journey more than an hour). However, I wouldn’t pay 4.5 yuan for a box of that awful food, let alone 45 yuan.

  • T

    RMB45 is too expensive for the lunch but they have very professional pictures taken? This is all just a publicity stunt!

  • So glad not to be in China for the first time in 10 years for CNY. Definitely not a time for celebration or relaxation for me. The fireworks in your face(a lot of times literally), stupid drunk people all times of the day on the street, fights over nothing, crazy traffic.

  • Check out that spit-guard/mouth-muzzle/hygene protector on the train stewardess in picture number six.

    Once all her clothes are off, I would totally make her put that bad boy back on. Not for both of our protection, just for the suggestion that I wouldn’t be having sex with a human being.


    I’m so glad in the US everyone doesn’t take a vacation at the same time. It just wouldn’t be fun for me. I like travelling at off-peak times. IN China it seems most people travel at the same times (Spring Festival, all those other national holidays). I’d go insane having to battle all those crowds. I mean tradition is tradition but, I don’t know about this.

    • Totally agree… they do this nonsense in Europe too, its just not as crowded there.

      I even live my daily life off peak times. When I’m in the U.S., I do all my grocery shopping around 11:30pm, when the store is mostly empty but they haven’t started restocking yet. I always find a work schedule that doesn’t require me to drive until after rush hour has slowed down… etc etc. Its amazing how much time and aggravation you can save every single day intentionally living your life off peak times.

  • anon101

    …. one child policy at its finest…
    I HATE it when parents dont control their kids on train journeys. the last thing I want on a 6 hour ride is to have some kid stare at me for 6 hours and move around constantly, interfering with my ‘personal space’.
    I have found buying first class (bigger chairs, more foot space) is a good way to go, but often you get people walk in from the second class areas and sit down, spitting, doing that coughing thing, you know. Most the time the train staff dont do a damn thing either.
    where possible its also cheaper to fly (spring airlines) A flight from Shijiazhuang was 99rmb plus tax’s while a train would cost around 400 rmb. so flying is quicker and cheaper.

    thanks for letting me have my little moan (just had a horrible train ride, NEVER doing that again. (mind you just had a flight as well and damn near missed it due to not working out increase in travel times thanks to so much extra traffic going to the airports) (thank god spring airlines let me check in with 30 mins before take off and told me they wouldn’t hold the plane. “fine by me thank you so very much” )

    • ScottLoar

      Some parents think indulging children is the same as loving them. The results are spoiled brats who reciprocate by abusing the parents – or grandparents, who are usually guilty of raising 寶寶 in the absence of the parents. But, anyone in China concerned over “personal space” is doomed to a life of continuous ire. You want relief from people interfering with your personal space? Leave China.

  • maybeabanana

    It is a movie. You can probably pirate it at bay.

  • Chat2Arseholes

    I thought there was a one child policy. Check this guy out brazenly walking around with 2 kids in broad daylight.

    Fuck the police, fuck them.

    • Alex

      You clearly have a very limited/no understanding of the one child policy. Around half the population are permitted to have a second child if their first-born was a girl. There are also many exceptions for villagers and ethnic minorities.

      So fuck you, and fuck your ignorance.

  • It’s a simple question of supply and demand. The cheaper tickets are much in demand (and lots of scalping). The more expensive high speed trains have available seats precisely because they are more expensive. If they were as cheap as the slow trains, these people STILL wouldn’t be able to get home because those would be scalped also. So yes, it cost them more, but that’s a decision they could make.

  • Or… crazy idea here. They could have left a day later (tickets available in all classes)

    Why is there a transition to HSR? Because passenger lines LOSE MONEY at all levels. They never break even. Freight however, makes shitloads of profit which in turn, subsidizes the passenger travel. Moving the passenger trains off the freight lines increases freight capacity (which already tends to be booked solid). And even then, they have not removed all the slow trains. Jesus fuck, leave a day later if you miss the hottest tickets. Not a huge deal.

  • krdr

    At least, they had a great time and kids are happy. Expensive, but precious moment.

  • Jing Li

    “As the train enters Henan territory, the sun is setting, and the two kids are absorbed by the view outside the window”

    Yeah, nice view.

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