Millions Head Home for China Annual Migration
Hundreds of millions of people across China are squeezing into packed train carriages and buses to travel home for the Lunar New Year, in the world's largest annual movement of people.
A total of 3.4 billion trips will be made over the holiday period, official media estimates, including hundreds of millions of migrant workers in booming cities who journey to the countryside to spend the season with their families.
Travelers must be home by Saturday night to usher in the new year on Sunday.
Chinese media has been filled with images of migrant workers, dressed in stiff army coats and carrying cloth knapsacks, camping out at railway stations and queuing to buy long-distance bus tickets.
An online system designed to ease the stress of buying tickets generated controversy after some used special computer applications to beat the process, while others reported that they were stranded after tickets were sold out.
Migrant workers often carry home large sums of cash to give to relatives in "red envelopes" over the lunar new year, known in China as "Spring Festival."
One worker became so stressed at the thought that someone would steal the 20,000 yuan ($3,200) he was carrying that he dumped the entire amount in a station waiting room, local media reported.
The worker decided to continue travelling with the money after a police officer calmed him down, reports said.
Donations flooded in to a delivery man who dropped 17,600 yuan on a Shanghai street ahead of the holidays after social media users highlighted his plight, reports said. He has since received 14,650 yuan in gifts.
Chinese men have placed adverts online offering their services as boyfriends for women anxious to show their parents that they are making progress towards securing a husband.
"Your parents worked so hard to raise you, bringing a boyfriend home is the best way to repay them," one such offer read. One site priced holding hands, hugs and kisses at 10, 20 and 500 yuan per display of affection.
The season sees peak traffic on roads and an annual rise in accidents. A bridge in central Henan province collapsed last week as a truck carrying new year's fireworks exploded, killing at least 13.