Ma Qinghui contacts a customer in Beijing’s Chaoyang district. [Photo/China Daily]
Man dreams of Beijing’s sights
Ma Qinghui, 41, had to stay in Beijing during Spring Festival after he failed to get a ticket to his hometown in Tonghua, Northeast China’s Jilin province.
“It is always difficult to buy a ticket during the Spring festival travel peak when hundreds of thousands of people commute from where they work to their hometowns,” he said.
An express delivery man in Beijing for almost 10 years, Ma said he planned to go back to his hometown during the Lantern Festival, which falls 15 days after the Spring Festival.
He has already bought some gifts for his family－some delicious meat for his 17-year-old daughter and some nice clothes for his wife and parents.
“I did not buy anything for myself,” he said. “As a man, I am happy enough to see my family enjoying the festival.”
After staying with his family members for about five days, he will leave them again for Beijing－as he has done repeatedly in the past decade.
The economy is the only reason to explain his absence－by working more than 10 hours a day without a weekend break, he could earn about 8,000 yuan ($1,150) per month－almost four times the average income in his hometown.
Although there is hardly any entertainment in his Beijing life, Ma said he enjoys the capital city, where he can have a promising income to raise his family hundreds of kilometers away.
Ma said his dream is to travel to scenic spots in Beijing, including the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven, where he has never been because of his busy job.
“I have to be responsible for my work as well as my clients since they are always waiting eagerly for the things they have bought online,” he said, adding that the boom in e-commerce in recent years has made him much busier.
Zhang Dinghao at work at the Sanjiang high-speed railway station in Liuzhou, Guangxi. [Photo/China Daily]
Signalman misses dinner with his parents
This new year differs from many others for Zhang Dingtao and his new wife as they decided to remain at their jobs during Spring Festival.
The couple work at the Sanjiang high-speed railway station in Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
In charge of signal maintenance, 27-year-old Zhang is proud to be a signalman, as he regards this position to be as critical as an engine driver’s to ensuring safety.
“If the signal lights, which function like the eyes of a train, go wrong, it may cause a sudden stop and therefore delay, so we have to keep an eye on the lights. The light bulb may burn out at any time,” Zhang said.
However, his job is far more complicated than changing bulbs. He has to watch the centralized monitoring system and be aware of the slightest deviation of the statistics.
“Accuracy means life in my position, for a small error may cause a fatal accident. As the control procedure is totally intelligentized now, the signalman must be qualified with technical knowledge and the virtue of prudence,” Zhang said.
There are only four signalmen in his track division, according to Zhang.
“We all want to leave for a family reunion at the end of the year, but we also need someone to stay on duty. I don’t think this makes us special because this is how our lives are safeguarded,” Zhang added.
As an only child, Zhang still feels a little guilty for not spending Spring Festival with his parents in Gansu province.
Zhao Heting, a photojournalist at Tencent News, with his 1-year-old daughter.[Photo/China Daily]
Journalist hopes to cover beauty in empty capital
While most people returned home during Spring Festival, Zhao Heting, 30, a photojournalist at Tencent News, snapped pictures in Beijing, documenting the “spring travel”－the world’s largest annual human migration－and the empty capital it leaves behind.
The 30-year-old photojournalist at Tencent News was born in Liaoning province. He worked for a local newspaper in Hunan province for three years before coming to Beijing in 2015.
“This is my first time taking pictures of the empty capital,” Zhao said. “I can’t even imagine how surreal it must be to see the typically crowded subways, shopping malls and roads become hollow. You don’t see scenes like these every day.”
The scenes usually painted of the city are cold and unforgiving, Zhao said, but he wanted his pictures to portray a different tone.
“I want to prove that amid the empty buildings, there are still beauties to behold and stories to unfold,” Zhao said. This was the reason for his staying in the city when millions of people returned home, he added.
“I looked forward to returning every year because it is a rare chance to escape the city life and reconnect with my family,” he said.
Now, with Zhao’s daughter turning one year old, he and his wife have anchored their lives in Beijing instead.
“Living in a big city is really challenging,” he said. “But seeing my daughter grow up, I know everything will be worth it. I hope one day she will look at my pictures and be proud.”
Chao Zhuanai, tour guide at Nanwan Monkey Island in Hainan province. [Photo/China Daily]
Guide has passion for visitors, monkeys
During Spring Festival, the most important Chinese holiday for family gatherings, 30-year-old Chao Zhuanai greeted visitors from around the world with her crowds of rhesus monkeys at Nanwan Monkey Island, a national nature reserve in southern Hainan, China’s only tropical province.
This was Chao’s ninth Spring Festival spent working.
“If you’re lucky you can see the monkeys fight for the ‘throne’ of monkey king on the island, which usually happens during the winter season. Every four years, different groups of monkeys will have a cruel and bloody ‘campaign’.” she said.
Visitors can learn many interesting stories and knowledge about the monkeys, which Chao herself learned from books or research at Nanwan, the world’s only tropical island for rhesus monkeys.
The nationally protected monkeys, which numbered about 100 on the island in the 1960s, have increased to the current 2,500 due to protection of the local environment. The monkeys have formed themselves into 29 groups, and on a whistle the well-trained monkeys will rush down from the mountains in minutes for food and games.
“I have spent eight Spring Festivals at the monkey island because I enjoy the holiday atmosphere here and I learn a lot from tourists with different backgrounds. While helping tourists know more about the life of the monkeys and the nature reserve, I enrich my life experience through exchanges with visitors,” Chao said.
“Tourists need me when they come here for big holiday fun at the beautiful 10 square kilometer reserve, rich with wildlife and plants,” Chao said. “I feel obliged and happy to spend the previous holiday moments with my customers.”
A native of Guangdong province, Chao fell in love with the island, located in Lingshui, about 40 minutes’ drive from Sanya, dubbed the oriental Hawaii, in southern Hainan, at her first visit to the tourist spot as a job applicant in 2008.
Chao said to her surprise and joy that she often heard people who revisit the island call her by name. “Tourists remembering you in their hearts is a sweet gift to a tourist guide,” said Chao, adding that being a tourist guide is a very rewarding job and is a window to pass on knowledge and civilization. Her motto is “to be kind, tolerant and always smile.”
Chen Hui says he wants to make up to his family during his leave. [Photo/China Daily]
Officer proud of keeping others safe
Chen Hui, a traffic policeman in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province, said he worked all seven days of the Spring Festival holiday.
Like many others working in the public sector, this has been the case for most years since he became a traffic police officer in 2005.
His work during the holiday mainly involves directing traffic as well as preventing and dealing with traffic jams, traffic accidents and dangerous driving.
He said his work hours run from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, but he needs to stay on call at all times and be on duty whenever a call comes.
The officer said he is OK with staying on duty while most other people are able to take a break and enjoy the traditional Chinese festivities, except for the fact that he is not able to spend more time with his parents, wife and son.
Chen said his wife, who also works in the local traffic police force, looks after their family when he is away.
“Sometimes I get home from work late at night and wake my family from sleep. ... The only way I can make it up to them is to take a leave and stay with them when I am not assigned with tasks,” he said.
But the man takes pride in his mission.
“As a policeman, it is my duty to guard people’s safety. I will and must stay on my post to help others get home safe and sound for the Spring Festival family reunion,” he said.
Zou Defeng delivers cooking oil and rice to people in economic difficulties in Nanchang, Jiangxi province. [Photo/China Daily]
Retiree, 60 offers help to people for decades
Zou Defeng has been working as a volunteer in Nanchang Railway Station for 26 years.
The 60-year-old has been working as a nurse in Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi province for more than four decades. In 1992, she initiated a voluntary medical team, consisting of staff members from the hospital where she worked, and started providing medical service free-of-charge for travelers in the railway station during the Spring Festival travel rush.
Like many other railway stations in China, Nanchang Railway Station often witnesses a large flow of passengers during the travel rush, probably the time when voluntary services are most needed to help maintain smooth and efficient operation of the station.
According to Zou, her voluntary service at this time of the year usually starts on the third day of the Chinese New Year and lasts till the 15th day, which marks the end of New Year celebrations.
The focus is on travelers that need extra attention, such as the aged, the disabled and the pregnant, while Zou and her colleagues also need to to take care of emergencies.
During the last Spring Festival, Zou recalled, she was informed that someone was having a nosebleed in one of the station’s waiting rooms. She rushed to the scene and found a man in his 50s sitting on the floor and leaning against the chair, blood staining his clothes.
“He was bleeding heavily. I compressed his nose and applied hemostatics to help stop the bleeding,” Zou said. She took his blood pressure, found he was suffering hypertension, and gave him some medicine to lower the pressure.
Fortunately, the passenger gradually recovered consciousness, took a rest and had some lunch before boarding his train.
The nurse, who was awarded the Florence Nightingale Medal in 2013, said she sometimes feels sorry that the busy work during every Chinese New Year means less time spent with her family, but she enjoys being a volunteer.
“I feel a sense of achievement when I am needed by others. I feel happy when I help others,” she said.