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How Collectivism came to rescue during my Lunar New Year trip in China.

My family visited my grandfather (rip)'s hometown, Chongqing, during the Lunar New Year. We were almost stranded due to chūn yùn (the busiest travel event in China). We were rescued by Collectivism.

by Zhou Fang, Intersectional Group

When the six of us - my parents, my uncle, auntie, cousin, and me - took the highspeed (peak speed 245 km/hr (152 mile/hr) train from Guilin to Chongqing on Feb 12, we planned to take the same train back to Guilin on Feb 16. We were waitlisted due to the extremely high volume during the Lunar New Year holiday (chūn yùn). We were assured by friends and relatives that we would get on the train without issues because "it has always worked out for us."

Well, we got kicked off the waitlist just after 7 am, Feb 16. What happened next was a beautiful case for Collectivism.


So we didn't have a single train ticket, let alone six, on the day we were supposed to leave. What are we going to do? Mom immediately called my other cousin who lives in Chongqing, who was also our tour guide of the city. He came to the hotel right away and helped us get bus tickets to Chengdu, where we eventually flew out in the evening of Feb 17. Meanwhile, dad and cousin (we traveled together) figured out the flight tickets from Chengdu to Guilin. All happened while I took my sweet time getting ready for the day because my smartphone is useless in China when it comes to problem solving - every payment, every transaction, every booking happens on the phone in China. I don't have access to most programs/apps or payment systems there. I am a literal dependant in China.

(there is no direct flight from Chongqing to Guilin and it's very expensive. the train tickets from Chongqing to Chengdu had sold out at that point.)

While my cousin who lives in Chongqing, my dad and cousin, figuring out the tickets, my mom called her cousin (they call each other sisters) in Chengdu, explaining what happened. By the time we (I mean, they) bought all the bus and flight tickets, we had a hotel booked in Chengdu, 3 minutes from my mom's cousin's home.

ALL took less than 2 hours.

The bus ride from Chongqing to Chengdu was brutal but we made it to Chengdu in time for dinner! (the ride was less than 5 hours).

We then spent the evening and the next day exploring one district in Chengdu (both Chongqing and Chengdu are large cities in west China), before finally boarding our plane home in the evening of Feb 17.

I am sure we'd have figured things out on our own. But you see, Collectivism really saved us time and from other unseen troubles. We even got to enjoy another city (Chengdu is where my grandmother (rip) was from) for a day.

Of course, this was not the only highlight (think: food, culture) from my Lunar New Year trip in China. But this one stuck with me. As a problem solver myself, I honestly don't think I would have solved this travel issue for six people in 2 hours.

Collectivism came to rescue and we all gained something from the experience: lessons, extra family time/bonding, bonus day in Chengdu, and jokes for days, maybe years to come.

For my travel photos during the lunar new year, please visit this album.

Zhou Fang 


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