Golden Week

Lost, left behind or unconscious: China’s ‘Golden Week’ horror stories

Traffic woes, crowds and arguments make the holiday memorable for all the wrong reasons

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 October, 2017, 6:59pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 4:29pm

Tales of travel chaos are piling up as 710 million people take to the roads, railways and air during China’s “Golden Week” holiday crush.

An extra day has been added to the annual week-long National Day break this year because the Mid-Autumn Festival falls on October 4.

Highways, public transport and scenic attractions have been packed across the country, leading to complaints on social media about safety and health hazards as tourists spend hours caught in crowds without access to food, water or toilets.

One tour bus driver abandoned his coach full of passengers mid-journey after police stopped the vehicle to check his driving licence, news site reported on Tuesday.

On Sunday evening, Shandong traffic police discovered that the man, surnamed Zhang, did not have the right type of licence to drive the coach, and his tour company should not have been operating on the route, the report said.

Zhang managed to flee the vehicle before police could arrest him, but his 38 passengers were left stranded during a 1,000km journey from the city of Handan in northern Hebei province to Changshu in eastern Jiangsu.

Big traffic delays in China as millions head out for longer golden week break

There have also been several cases of people mistakenly being left at service stations by relatives.

One man’s family drove off from a service station in Yancheng, Jiangsu without him after he had gone to the bathroom on Sunday, according to a clip posted on video-sharing site Pear Video.

They were reunited and on their way again soon after, but not before a police officer chastised the driver for managing to lose someone when there were a group of just three.

Another driver was fined 200 yuan (US$30) for illegally parking on the side of a highway near Wuhan in Hubei during an argument with his wife on Saturday, Chutian Metropolis Daily reported. The woman had earlier stormed off from a service station and he apparently drove along the highway for hours before he found her. She accused her husband of deliberately driving off without her.

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Monster traffic jams along the country’s major highways are commonplace at this time of year, but on Sunday, vehicle queues on the Humen Pearl River Bridge in Guangdong lasted for so long that one man fainted in his stationary car.

The man and his family had set off the day before, but they ended up being stuck on the highway for at least 10 hours in sweltering heat, Guangzhou Daily reported on Monday.

With the traffic at a standstill, his family had left him in the car while they went to buy food and water, and found him unconscious when they returned.

Traffic police arrived on the scene and quickly revived him, the report said. Other travellers complained on social media that they had been stuck on the same bridge for more than 12 hours. The bridge is commonly used by those travelling between Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Popular tourist attractions have also been overwhelmed with crowds.

Seven children were reported missing at West Lake in Hangzhou on Monday, when more than 700,000 visitors descended on the area, Shanghai news outlet reported.

All of the children were found by security guards and reunited with their families.

One nine-year-old boy lost his family in the massive crowds after he walked off during an argument and was found by security guards 40 minutes later, after his older brother raised the alarm, the report said.

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A six-year-old boy also went missing at West Lake but was found by police 20 minutes later. His mother said there were simply “too many people”.

“When I turned around he wasn’t there,” she was quoted as saying.