By Tom Bannister
The Chinese New Year travel period, often called Chunyun (春运) and sometimes ‘the largest human migration in history’, is fast approaching. With nearly two billion journeys criss-crossing the country, it is the antithesis of the state’s desire for ‘harmony’. Travel plans often go wrong: train, bus and plane tickets are always difficult to procure, the weather is usually at its worst, and accommodation is always over-booked.
All in all there is a lot of scope for a lot of waiting around interspersed by brief periods of fighting your way through dense crowds of fellow travellers. None of this is ever a surprise: it happens every year. In expectation of these hardships Chinese entrepreneurs have launched products to lessen the pain of travel. These have been much talked about on Chinese social media and labelled ‘Chunyun Magic-weapons’ (春运神器) by netizens.
The most popular is the ‘Hard Seat gem’ (pictured above), a fold-able rest that a weary traveller can rest their weary head and chest against when things get too much. The IBTimes interviewed the creator of the product, which is selling very well on Taobao (the Chinese ebay). The inventor, called Chen Jianquan, is from Jiangxi and came up with the idea when he had to make long train journeys between Jiangxi and Beijing. “I thought: could I come up with something to ease the pain?” said Chen.
With the popularity of the ‘Hard Seat Gem’ confirmed, other ‘Chunyun Magic-weapons’ were suggested by netizens. Many talked of portable mahong tables, cards and ipads. Some even suggested wearing a diaper/nappy for when the toilet is impossible to reach. One popular suggestion was the ‘Ostrich Pillow’ (you put your hands in the holes):