Reunion of a different kind

The balik kampung journey was not that easy this year for millions, but regulations did not stop them.


February 10, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR – CHINESE New Year is the time to catch up with family members, relatives and friends.

Perhaps, it is also the once-in-a-year chance for most Chinese, who are away from home, to return for a reunion with their loved ones.

The balik kampung journey was not that easy this year as the government had urged the people to avoid travelling to prevent and control the spread of Covid-19 following sporadic cluster infections at multiple places nationwide.

They had to follow a list of strict measures, including providing negative results of a nucleic acid test taken within 48 hours, before being allowed to travel. But these measures did not stop them.

Some 260 million passenger trips were made during the first 10 days of chunyun, the Spring Festival travel rush.

The figure was 46% higher than the same period last year, announced Transport Ministry spokesman Liu Pengfei.

He pointed out that most of the travellers took road trips, followed by train, flight and waterways.

Dubbed the world’s largest human migration, the 40-day event takes place from Jan 17 to Feb 25.

In Hebei province, a woman reached home only to find her bedroom had been “conquered” by her parents’ pets – a cat and a dog – with their toys scattered around the room. She ended up sharing her room with the animals.

In Henan province, a man – upon returning home – found out his parents had arranged a matchmaking session. Unable to get away, he headed to the woman’s house on a motorcycle because a friend had borrowed his car.

At the woman’s home, he found out that she was seeing dozens of bachelors on the same day.

The potential husband candidates had formed a long queue outside her farm house.

When the woman’s parents found out he came on a motorcycle, they asked him to leave, saying they preferred someone with a car.

“I waited for more than an hour and did not even get to see her face,” he laughed.

It is common for desperate parents to organise blind dates for their single grown-up children.

One netizen vented her frustration on social media after her parents set her up with over 20 men during her stay at home last year.

“I told them I would not come home if they do it again,” she wrote.

In Shandong province, a 62-year-old businessman went to his parents’ home.

“The son has come back for the Spring Festival,” he announced loudly the moment he pushed open the door to the village home.

It had been his habit to call out for his parents when he reached home but this time, there was no response. His parents had passed away several years ago.

“This is the only place I could recall the sweet memories of me and my parents, and I have not come back since they left.

“I miss them so I came back to have a look,” he added.

In outer space, three Chinese astronauts celebrated the country’s most important festival onboard its space station some 400km above the Earth.

Taikonauts Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu decorated the place with couplets written by them, red lanterns and other paraphernalia while eating jiaozi (boiled dumplings) of various fillings.(Taikonaut refers to a Chinese space traveller. It derives from the words tai kong that mean outer space.)

In a video released by China Manned Space Agency, they extended their greetings, wishing everyone a prosperous year ahead.

The astronauts ventured into a six-month space travel from Oct 16.

They have been in orbit for more than 100 days, completing multiple tasks, including performing two spacewalks, a live science lecture as well as a manual rendezvous and docking test.

Jiaozi is a must-have on the dining table in the northern region of China. If you ask the people what they eat at each festival, celebration and birthday, the answer you get will most certainly be “jiaozi”.

The common fillings of the food are mince pork with either Chinese cabbage, salted vegetable, leek or mushroom, and tomato with egg.

In Beijing, it is not an exaggeration to say there is at least one dumpling restaurant at every shopping mall and in business zones.

Homemade jiaozi and noodles are common for the Chinese to prepare but in recent years, frozen jiaozi sold at the stores and groceries are gaining popularity in the cities.

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