Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Home Sweet Home: Baidu Map Shows Chinese Lunar New Year Migration in Real Time

China's annual migration is well-underway. Four years ago, when Paul and I first visited China to check out our new 'hood', we managed to find ourselves at the Beijing Railway Station just a week before Chinese New Year. What we saw? An ocean of people hoping to buy a train ticket or already 'hop'on the train and occupy their 'standing seat' for the eight or more hour train ride home to their 'laojia', the family home. (And this of course only when the ticket you just bought doesn't turn out to be fake.)

Well, our laojia now is Beijing, so Paul and I are not going anywhere and I am just going to observe the migration from my desk with this very cool map that the Chinese search engine Baidu has set up:

The Baidu map shows people on the move on January 16 (top left) and today
(January 29, top right). The photos on the bottom show today's movements into
and out of Beijing (left) and Shanghai (right). 

The map is based on the number and location of people using the Baidu search app on their cell phones and shows destinations, cities of origin, and routes (on the Website, use the three big blue buttons on the right to toggle between the three). Beijing is a big departure and a big destination city, so--as can be expected--the whole thing is just a giant reshuffling of people.

Not everyone is going home though - this year I read a couple articles about the immense pressure and stress a lot of young people experience when they go home. Why are you not married? Why don't you make more money? Apparently these are some of the more gentle questions that might be shared over the Chinese New Year, along with the dumplings and fire crackers. This article in particular has gotten a lot of coverage:

Newspaper front page: Mom: "Please come home for Chinese New Year,
we won't ask you about marriage ever again!

In het Nederlands: In China is op dit moment bijna iedereen op reis. Vrijdag begint hier het Chinese nieuwjaar en dan moet je thuis bij je pa en ma aan de dumplings zitten. Het is een hoop gestress natuurlijk, die volksverhuizing. En dan moet je eventueel ook nog jezelf bij pa en ma verantwoorden waarom je nog niet getrouwd bent of waarom je niet al een betere baan hebt. Sommige mensen ontduiken tegenwoordig deze stress en blijven lekker thuis. Zelf gaan we morgenavond even Nederlandse oliebollen bakken en een fles champagne opentrekken!

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