Migrant workers in China

‘I’ll save the cash to buy clothes for my wife’: Chinese migrant worker’s 40km trek home

When his bus wasn’t running because of heavy snow, Zhao Fangzi, 60, decided to walk home from the train station

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 January, 2018, 5:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 January, 2018, 6:39pm

A migrant worker heading home for the Lunar New Year holiday had a tough choice to make when he found his bus wasn’t running because of heavy snow: spend money on a taxi, or walk.

And despite the snow and freezing temperature, Zhao Fangzi, 60, chose to walk home – 40 kilometres.

Zhao said the 200 yuan (US$32) taxi fare would be better spent on new clothes for his wife for the Lunar New Year, according to an Imagine China report on Friday.

He began the trek from Luoyang train station to his hometown in Mengjin county, central Henan province, on Thursday morning after arriving by train from Shanghai.

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Waiting for the next bus service would have meant paying for a hotel.

“If I had stayed there and waited, I would’ve had to check in to a hotel, which would have cost extra money too,” Zhao was quoted as saying. “So I decided to walk home.”

Zhao left his hometown for Shanghai a year ago, but said it had not been easy to find a job at his age.

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He had been working at a construction site there, earning some 2,000 yuan a month – although he said he was still owed about 10,000 yuan.

Zhao said he was disappointed that he had not been paid before the Lunar New Year, but his boss had promised to pay him the rest of the unpaid wages after the festival, according to the report.

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The Lunar New Year, which falls on February 16, is the most important holiday in Chinese culture, and it is also the only chance many migrant workers get to travel back to their hometowns to see their families.

But for Zhao, it will be a one-way journey. He said he was ready to retire and would not return to Shanghai. “I’m [already] 60, and it’s time to retire. We have pensions too, after all,” he was quoted as saying.

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That decision made his trek home all the more arduous – he was carrying all his belongings, including a sleeping mat, electric fan and bedding.

“It’s not that cold,” Zhao said, with a towel on his head to protect his hair from the snow. “And the more you walk, the warmer you feel.”

The report did not say whether Zhao had made it home but he was hoping to get back before dark.

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His story attracted plenty of support online.

“Life is never easy, hope you get home safe,” one person wrote on news portal 163.com.

“He walked for 40 kilometres just to save money to buy new clothes for his wife – that is the sweetest love in the world,” another wrote.