Home for holiday: A migrant worker's motorcycle journey home

Updated 2018-02-08 15:47:05

On the road of life, there are passengers and drivers, and each one has a story.[Special coverage]

Nearly 200,000 of those stories belong to southern Chinese migrant workers, who brave the elements on a dawn-til-dusk motorcycle journey for hundreds of kilometers to their hometown.

Working 48-50 weeks a year, usually outside their hometown, the annual Spring Festival holiday is the only chance all year to spend quality time with their family.

"I work in a furniture factory in Foshan and really want to be home for the Spring Festival," says Chen Jian, whose 12-year-old son is along for the 12-hour ride. "My motorcycle is the most viable, affordable option for my son and I."

It's an even bigger family affair for Liu Xiaoying, her husband, their four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son ahead of their all-day journey.

"We wake up at 4:00 a.m., get the kids ready, and hit the road. We hope to get home before dark," she says.

Unable to buy train or bus fares once tickets sell out, these families and others bundle their belongings and themselves together onto their two-wheelers, risking their lives and much more all for the eventual warm comforts of home.

"I'm a truck driver and the cities like Jiangmen are the best places to get work," says Xu Weiyi, Liu's husband. "The Spring Festival is the only time all year to be home together as a family," he added.

Together, they endure single-digit temperatures, narrow roads, and unknown territory. But most make it home, with the rate of accidents in decline in recent years.

Many belongings on his bike.

Also in decline, the number of riders making the annual trip. Thanks to improvements in China's railway network, many now opt to put their wives and kids on trains or buses, while they bike home solo. For many of them it's 2-3 weeks of holiday time, then having to look for a brand new job, thus starting the journey all over again in the Chinese New Year.

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