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More Chinese prefer to travel during holidays
Updated: 2004-10-02 10:17

Despite having just emerged from a 15-hour train ride, 65-year-old Huan Shuchun walked happily out of the West Beijing Railway Station on Friday to spend the week-long National Day holidays with her son in Beijing. Ten years ago, the 1,580-kilometer ride took her 24 hours.

"It's a much nicer experience to travel, nowadays. Wherever you go, just pack your luggage, and rock and roll," she said.

Huan said that when she lived in Changsha County of central China's Hunan Province 50 years ago, she had to rise in dawn and spend the whole morning trekking in mountains to catch a noon bus for another hour-long ride just to get to school -- even though the total travel distance was only 25 kilometers.

With the improvement of road conditions, more and more Chinese choose to travel to enrich their holiday life.

On October 1 through 7, most Chinese people have a week-long holiday to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Rail and highway traffic volume is expected to hit 312.5 million, said the Ministry of Communications.

To meet the surging travel demand, Chinese railway and highway departments started preparations a dozen days in advance. About two million extra bus and train trips will be arranged during the holiday period while the season's daily traffic volume is estimated to reach a record 46 million.

Yu Wei, a joint venture employee in Beijing, excitedly loaded food and luggage onto his newly bought Nissan Paladin on Friday morning preparing to drive his family to Shidu and Yeshanpo, two popular tourists sites in Beijing's suburbs.

"This is my first vacation in five years. I hope we have a great time together," he said.

Yu decided travel by car a better option than travel by rail. "Roads go in all directions. You can go wherever you want and stop whenever you like. It's more comfortable and much freer," he said.

Since the building of the first Chinese highway, a 18.5- kilometer section linking Shanghai and Jiading, was built in 1988, the country's highway construction has received much attention from the world.

Sixteen years later, the country's total highway mileage exceeds 30,000 kilometers, twice as long as that in Canada and second only to the United States. Moreover, the Chinese government has decided to enhance its road construction investment to extend its total highway mileage to 82,000 kilometers by 2020, which will benefit a population of more than one billion.

Huan, a witness of new China's development, said that her biggest wish as a child was simply to leave her village to see the outside world. These days, she always tells her children not to be workaholics.

"Take some time to travel around. You will see a lot and get more than you expect," she said.

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