A cross-border ‘yellow cow’ story

May 12, 2022 10:38
Photo: www,news.cn

Almost all overseas fellows of my age that I know came to Hong Kong during the pandemic only for one reason: to meet their parents as much as possible.

But in order to see their parents in person, they would have to go through a quarantine period of one to three weeks, if not longer.

Interestingly, people who want to visit China these days might have to line up and pay to comply with the quarantine rules.

Recently I came to notice two cases of my close friends. One of them is about halfway through the quarantine in a certain Chinese city, and the other one is contemplating what the best option is.

In the first case, my friend who had not seen his mainland parents for two and a half years because of travel restrictions finally decided to go home but experienced difficulty in booking hotels or bus tickets.

Usually, there are two common ways, either through Shenzhen or Zhuhai. One needs to make a reservation in a Shenzhen quarantine hotel online system or get a bus ticket to Zhuhai via the Hong Kong-Macao-Zhuhai bridge.

Apparently, my friend felt frustrated after failing to book for two weeks and decided to go through the underground channel.

According to him, some mainland agents would be able to book through these systems with a service charge of between a few hundred to a few thousand yuan. One explanation is that these guys wrote a computer program that can access the database faster.

Whatever the reason, the price seemed to be softer these days because there are more daily quotas from Hong Kong to China in the past two weeks. Someone reportedly paid 3,500 yuan two weeks ago for this service while my friend paid no more than 1,000 yuan as the daily quota has been raised to 600 from 500 from this week.

“Yellow cow”, or huángniú, is slang for ticket touts who earn the price difference by reselling high-demand music tickets, theatre tickets, or even train tickets.

“I hate to pay the yellow cow because these people take advantage of the system and crowd out those who genuinely need this service, but I have no better option,” said my friend.

There is a third way, fly to a mainland city outside Greater Bay Area, say Chengdu and travel back to the city they originally want to go. This is an easier way to book but it takes all the hustles and involves uncertainties of the pandemic situation in different mainland cities, which could mean a quarantine period of 28 days (14 days in hotel, seven days homestay in the first city and seven days in the second city).

It seems easy for the Chief Executive-designate John Lee to please citizens by lifting travel restrictions to and from Hong Kong after he takes over in the summer. Fingers crossed that such inhuman quarantine would die alongside the virus so that we would not need to wait for too much longer than those in the long queue for public housing.

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EJ Insight writer