Planet China

Dual destinations

E-commerce has made life much easier for Chinese consumers but sometimes it can result in costly blunders too. That’s what happened to Liu Tianqi and his grandparents when they booked a ticket online for a bus journey from Guangdong last week. Ostensibly the bus was going to their hometown of Macheng in Hubei province. However, the family were a bit puzzled during their trip as all the other passengers were talking with a Sichuan dialect. However, given their tickets were printed with the correct name for their destination they initially ignored the fact they seemed to be travelling in the wrong direction. But after an eight-hour overnight ride, the startled Liu family woke up to an entirely unfamiliar rural town, which turned out to be Macheng of Sichuan province (the name is made up of the exactly same Chinese characters as their hometown). A quick internet search showed that they were some 1,300km from their intended destination.

Liu’s father had bought the tickets online without realising there was a town with the same name in a different province. The 14 year-old Liu and his grandparents were left with no choice but to call the police, who helped to arrange transport to the Macheng in Hubei. Luckily, they’ll still make it home before the Chinese New Year next week, but the unwitting diversion has meant the journey has taken nearly two days longer than planned.

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