BEIJING — Hundreds of millions of Chinese are making their way home this week to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday.
The sun was still not up yet, but Wang Dehuai and his family were ready to leave Beijing.
An industrial designer from Henan, Wang was driving back home to celebrate China's most traditional holiday.
“It's more than 700 kilometers to get to the provincial capital Zhengzhou," he said. "After that, we have still another 200 kilometers to get to our hometown. In total it will be more than 900 kilometers, if you count some stops to eat and rest a bit it will take 10 to 11 hours.”
For many travellers, this holiday is the only chance in a year to go back to where they grew up and spend time with relatives and childhood friends.
“It's all highway, and we are all in a hurry to be back," Wang said. "There is not going to be much to do during the ride this year, since we are not stopping in any city on the way.”
Wang recently heard of the car pooling concept on the radio. He thought it was a good idea to give a fellow migrant a ride.
“We have an empty seat and it's just a good thing to help out others," he said. "It's difficult to buy train tickets especially if you try to book them later on.”
While people might flock to trains and buses to get home during the country’s biggest annual migration, sharing car rides with strangers is still unusual in China, especially for white collar workers in cities.
So far some 11,000 people found rides home from Beijing for the New Year through Shunfengche, the online platform that helped connect Wang and Cui Tongqin, a business representative at a company in Beijing.
Cui says her search for train tickets was fruitless.
She had already resigned herself to spending the new year in Beijing, with other friends stuck in the city without a ticket home.
“I did not expect to be so lucky, and I am also leaving the first day of my holiday,” Cui said.
This journey is only one of the more than 3.5 billion trips transportation authorities estimate will take place during the 40 days of this holiday travel season.