The Spring Festival (春节) is very near －this year New Year’s eve (除夕) falls on January 22. Many netizens, like the rest of the nation, are traveling back for the holidays. At this time, not only do the country’s offices and shops shut down, but migrant workers and ordinary people working in the cities are scrambling for tickets to go back to their hometowns.
But when a country as large as China decides to go on the move, things as simple as buying a train ticket can become an unhappy adventure.
Unlike pervious years, this year netizens can use their savviness on the Internet to book their tickets. I tracked down one user to explain the details.
Netizens are using websites like www.12306.cn to book their tickets online. Peng Xin, who works at Sogou.com, is traveling to Henan (河南) and took me through the process of ordering tickets.
“You have to register first, with a real ID card number I think,” he said. “You could buy several tickets for different people with one account. Make sure train station and time of your departure and destination are available.”
When I asked about the payment method, he told me “You pay online. Take your ID card to a nearby train station or tickets stand-by to get the real ticket.”
However, its not always quite as easy as it seems and I asked about the challenge of buying tickets this way.
“First of all, the whole site is frequently unavailable. Secondly, when you are lucky enough to open the site, you find that you cannot log in,” he said. “When you’ve finally logged in, you find that all tickets are gone, nothing is left.”
However, not everyone’s experience is negative, Cao Lin, who works at the China Youth Daily (中国青年报) microblogged: “I got tickets after three tries, sometimes you’ll be surprised if you don’t expect too much.”
However, the Ministry of Railways has only approved 12306.cn and the telephone service 95105105. This could be why it’s so hard to get a ticket, because everyone is going on the same site.
If you’re traveling for the Spring Festival, let us know how you’re getting there and if you’re using any new technology to make the journey easier.