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Bound for Brazil

By Xu Lin | China Daily | Updated: 2014-06-11 10:00

Bound for Brazil

A couple passes by a roadside poster of the 2014 World Cup in Weifang, Shandong province. The fever for the tournament can be felt almost everywhere in China. Zhang Chi / For China Daily

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As the 2014 FIFA World Cup nears, Chinese fans have secured their tickets and are getting ready to take a trip of a lifetime. Xu Lin reports.

When Shen Zhengling, 45, from Shanghai, secured two tickets to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the diehard soccer fan could barely contain his excitement.

"It's very different to watch the World Cup on TV and in the stadium. Just imagine, we are there as witnesses in soccer's heartland," says Shen, who works in sales.

Shen will leave for Saint Paul on June 27 with six friends for a nine-day trip to Brazil. The trip will include a couple with their 3-year-old son. Because it is such a long flight, they will visit the United States or Canada before returning to China.

China has no direct flights to Brazil, and the total flying time is more than 20 hours.

"The two matches start at 1 pm but other fans told us to get there as early as 9 am, because outside the stadium there will be a big party of soccer fans from all over the world," he says.

To encourage more fans to visit Brazil, the country has introduced a policy that visitors who have bought tickets via official channels will be able to make multiple return trips to the country within three months, under a special World Cup Visa, and will be exempt from visa fees.

"Thanks to the visa policy, preparation for the journey is not so difficult. All one needs to do is to have sufficient time and money. Independent touring is much cheaper than doing a group tour with agencies," he says.

Shen and his companions have made their own wish list for their World Cup tour, such as playing soccer and making foreign friends.

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