BEIJING - Zheng Yuanjie, a renowned Chinese writer of children's literature, was recently disappointed to find that he couldn't buy a train ticket even after he had stood in line at a ticket office for more than an hour.
Zheng tried on Wednesday to buy the ticket for his assistant, who had planned to go to her home in Central China's Henan province for the National Day holiday. At the end of his long wait in line, Zheng learned that other travelers had booked all of the seats on the train she had wanted to take.
That was disappointing to Zheng, who had seen online advertisements offering tickets to those who wanted to go in the direction of Henan.
Zheng next went online and managed to get in touch with someone offering to sell him a ticket. The only catch was that he had to agree to pay 60 yuan ($10) more than the ticket's original price.
Zheng consulted a lawyer who told him that buying tickets from scalpers is illegal. So he refused to go through with the deal.
"I just wonder why scalpers and not authorized ticket agencies have tickets," Zheng complained on his micro blog. "Does everyone have to use illegal means to go home?"
Zheng sought an answer from the Ministry of Railways, which had not responded to him by Thursday. Phone calls to the Beijing Railway Bureau also went unanswered.
Travelers usually have a hard time buying tickets in China before long holidays, when hundreds of millions of people tend to return home or go elsewhere.