300,000 commuters travel between Beijing and Hebei every day

Inter-provincial travel can leave some away from home for 16hrs a day

Beijing commuters"Just two more hours of this, then nine hours at work" Image: David Woo

With house prices in Beijing rising, living within the city's fourth, fifth or even sixth ring road is prohibitively expensive for most.

Even for moderately well paid white collar employees and doctors, the most feasible option is to commute from neighbouring Hebei province.

Netease, a popular Chinese news service, followed the trials of a young doctor named Liu Xiaomin who graduated in 2004 with her husband, also a doctor, who had to trek between Yanjiao, Hebei, and Beijing in order to support her son. Liu would frequently rise at 5am and return at 9pm in the evening, often going for an entire week without seeing her son, despite living in the same house.

She is forced to take several buses and trains to get to work, or carpool with other Hebei residents. However, conditions on the buses are comparable to those around Chinese New Year, with each bus departing only when each one is jammed to capacity with commuters.

Liu is not alone as there are now some 300,000 Hebei residents making the round trip every day, which can take between four and six hours.

The government is increasing infrastructure spending to make highways between the two provinces quicker, however many in Yanjiao believe this move will only further accelerate local house prices and drive commuters to more distant locations