Saturday, February 09, 2008
Guangzhou to Changsha
We are in Guangzhou, China, trying to get a glimpse about why exactly this yearly migration back home for the spring festival is so important. Being new to China, I really didn’t know what to expect about the restrictions on reporting, but after our nosing about at the factory workers dormitories, incurring the rage of the owner of the factory, we had the opportunity to exercise a textbook trick. When trouble looms, change the tape in the camera; they will ask to hand to them what you filmed which you will do kindly and they will get a nice blank tape. Everybody’s happy.
The next day, our producer decides it will be great to travel with the migrant workers on a leg of their return home. Rushing down the train station platform trying to keep our correspondent framed and being shoved by people desperately trying to get a seat for the long journey, I realize it’ll be tough. Not even five minutes of being in the train, there’s a heated argument on the other end of the car. Not enough seats, but I can’t afford to give up my camera’s position. A coat over it and a woolly hat make it look like a sleeping person.
Very soon, we attract the attention of our fellow passengers. Pictures being taken, sweets offered … the conductor fetches some hot water for our tea. Maybe it won’t be so bad after all. But the novelty and excitement wears off pretty soon: sleeping seated on a hard bench, with equipment all about you, waking now and again to get this or that shot … 10 hours pass – it’s morning and the train is stationary for more than four hours.
Pacing up and down the aisle, it seems like a good idea to haul our gear through the window (all doors are locked, nobody is allowed in or out) and hire a car to move to the next station. But we stick by, and 17 hours later, with intermittent sleep, sparse food and no more tea, we get to Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. At least I’ve heard loads of compliments about this province’s food. Here we’ll stop to send our report back to base, and rest on a nice comfortable bed. As we go, we see how many of our fellow travellers are bottled on the next train’s door … again, fighting to get a seat for the next leg of their trip.
-- From CNN cameraman Miguel Castro
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