Chunyun is right around the corner, and the mad dash for train tickets is well underway. Thousands of people have been waiting in front of train station ticket windows in desperate attempts to secure a soft sleeper, or in some cases, just a hard seat.
People who get tickets are considered the lucky ones, because not everybody will. There simply aren’t enough trains. Last year, the government launched online purchasing and a real name registration system to try to make the things easier, but it did little help. The online purchasing system crashed several times after it launched and people say human beings aren’t fast enough to order a tickets through the system; once some seats become available, they are gone within fractions of a second, probably to computer algorithms set to buy the seats. On Weibo, many netizens also believe the system is modified to save tickets for staff, who can sell them later at a considerable markup.
For those that need to travel, the hard seats are among the easier tickets to get. Especially compared to the beds, which tend to sell out first. However, sitting on a hard seat for two hours is one thing; sitting on one for 24 hours in a well-lit train car is quite another. While people who haven’t got tickets yet are trying every which way to get one, people who are “lucky” enough to get hard seats have been busy buying Shen Qi, or “magic tools”, on Taobao to make their journey slightly more comfortable.
So without further adieu, some popular Chinese travel tools:
This handy tool allows people to fall asleep “comfortably” while sitting in their seat. The top part provides a place for them to rest their head, and the middle section keeps them safely in place.
Price: 123 kuai
More like a sleeping bag for the head, than a hat. This blocks out all sounds and light and theoretically allows you to get some sleep (although it looks like it could get quite hot in there).
Price: 57 kuai
Similar to anti-pervert shoes, these spikey footwear can be used as weapons on creepy nongmin dudes.
Paper Ma Jiang
A paper, disposable version of a popular Chinese game. Much easier to carry for long journeys than the plastic chips.