'Heat map' captures massive Chinese New Year migration

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'Heat map' captures massive Chinese New Year migration
In this image made on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015 from an interactive graphic from Baidu, the Chinese Internet portal, lines tracing the trips of individual travelers provide a "heat map" of the massive migration home from the big cities ahead of China's Lunar New Year. The interactive graphic shows the brightest spokes emanating from eastern employment hubs Beijing, Shanghai and the southern nexus of Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan. The lines are drawn from the locations of smartphones. (AP Photo/Baidu)
It's an annual journey that begins one step at a time as tens of thousands head to the train station in Shanghai to make their way home to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Chinese travelers queue up at the main entrance of the Beijing railway station to catch their trains in Beijing, China Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Millions of Chinese are traveling to their hometowns to celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19 this year which marks the Year of the Sheep on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Chinese traveler queue up at the main entrance to the Beijing railway station in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Millions of Chinese are traveling to their hometowns to celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19 this year which marks the Year of the Sheep on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Passengers with their luggage cast their shadows as they arrive at the main entrance to the Beijing railway station to catch their trains in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Millions of Chinese are traveling to their hometowns to celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19 this year which marks the Year of the Sheep on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
A couple kisses as others arrive at the main entrance of the Beijing railway station to catch their trains in Beijing, China Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Millions of Chinese are traveling to their hometowns to celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19 this year which marks the Year of the Sheep on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Chinese traveler queue up at the main entrance to the Beijing railway station to catch their trains in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Millions of Chinese are traveling to their hometowns to celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19 this year which marks the Year of the Sheep on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
A woman yawns next to her child as passengers arrive at the main entrance of the Beijing railway station to catch their trains in Beijing, China Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Millions of Chinese are traveling to their hometowns to celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19 this year which marks the Year of the Sheep on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
A diver dressed as "Prosperity God" feeds a stingray and other collection of fish as they celebrate the Chinese New Year Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 at the Manila Ocean Park, the country's largest oceanarium, in Manila, Philippines. This year marks the Year of the Sheep in the Chinese Lunar calendar. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Children watch as divers perform a dragon dance underwater at the South East Asia Aquarium in Resorts World Sentosa, a popular tourist destination, as part of Chinese New Year celebrations, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015 in Singapore. The tradition of dragon dance performances, usually on land, is believed to bring blessings to guests for an auspicious Lunar New Year. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
A woman shops for Chinese Lunar New Year decorations in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Chinese will celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A woman holds her son as she shops for Lunar New Year decorations in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Chinese will celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A Thai vendor of the decorations for Chinese Lunar New Year waits for customers in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Chinese will celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Ethnic Chinese people pray at Wat Mangkon Kamalawat Chinese Temple in Bangkok, Thailand Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Chinese will celebrate the Lunar New Year on Feb. 19.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A woman shops for good luck ornaments at the traditional Dihua market for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. The first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Thursday, Feb. 19. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
A Filipino arranges decorations as he prepares for the Chinese New Year celebrations at Manila's Chinatown, Philippines Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. The Chinese New Year falls on Thursday, Feb. 19. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)
In this photo taken on Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, prayer offering incense sticks wait to be boxed at Hsu Li-yen's family shop in the run up to the Chinese New Year in New Taipei City, Taiwan. After his mandatory 2-year military service, Hsu chose to learn the family craft from his uncle who currently runs the shop. “People like to go to temples (to pray) for a good start of the new year… they use incense and (fake) paper money to ask for a peaceful year ahead,” He plans to spend time with his family over the holidays and says, “I hope everyone can be healthy, safe, and happy throughout this new year.” (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
A diver dressed in Fortune God costume poses after he feeds fish as part of upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations at Aquaria KLCC underwater park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Children wear shopping bag costumes of local brands during preparations of the Chinese lunar new 'year of the sheep' which begins on February 19, in Hong Kong on February 17, 2015. Businesses all across Asia are expected to benefit from an increase of spending at retail and restaurants during the Chinese lunar new year. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers gather during preparations for Chinese lunar new year celebrations in Hong Kong on February 17, 2015. The Chinese lunar new 'year of the sheep' begins on February 19. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Performers gather during preparations for Chinese lunar new year celebrations in Hong Kong on February 17, 2015. The Chinese lunar new 'year of the sheep' begins on February 19. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
An advertisement for Patek Philippe SA wrist watches is displayed at a Laox Co. store in the Ginza district of Tokyo, Japan, on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Foreign visitors to Japan rose 29% year on year to a record a 13.4 million in 2014, said Japanese Transport Minister Akihiro Ohta on Jan. 20. Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: A Chinese traveler eats as they wait in the departure area for a train at a local railway station on February 16, 2015 in Beijing, China. Millions of Chinese will travel home to visit families in mass during the Spring Festival holiday period that begins with the Lunar New Year on February 19. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Chinese travelers make their way to trains at a local railway station on February 16, 2015 in Beijing, China. Millions of Chinese will travel home to visit families in mass during the Spring Festival holiday period that begins with the Lunar New Year on February 19. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 16: Chinese armed police officers march past travelers making their way to trains at a local railway station on February 16, 2015 in Beijing, China. Millions of Chinese will travel home to visit families in mass during the Spring Festival holiday period that begins with the Lunar New Year on February 19. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Thousands of Chinese devotees gather to welcome the various deities at the Badachu temple in Beijing on February 16, 2015 for the upcoming Lunar New Year, which marks the 'Year of the Sheep' on February 19 this year. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
SOLO, CENTRAL JAVA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 15: Dragon dancers perform during Grebeg Sudiro festival on February 15, 2015 in Solo City, Central Java, Indonesia. Grebeg Sudiro festival is held as a prelude to the Chinese New Year, which falls on February 19 this year, welcoming the Year of the Goat. People bring offerings known as gunungan, including Chinese sweetcakes piled up into the shape of mountains, which are paraded in the streets followed by Chinese and Javanese performers. (Photo by Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images)
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BEIJING (AP) -- This map of China's Lunar New Year travel tells a story of massive migration home from the big city.


The interactive, updating graphic posted online by the Chinese Internet portal Baidu shows a "heat map" of lines tracing the trips of individual travelers. The brightest spokes emanate from eastern employment hubs Beijing, Shanghai and the southern nexus of Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Dongguan.

About 80 million people were traveling on Monday alone, mostly by road, according to government estimates. Baidu was able to illustrate many of those journeys thanks to the 350 million active users of its smartphone map and other apps that use location positioning.

If someone uses a Baidu app in Beijing in the morning, then pings from the southwestern city of Kunming in the evening, a new trip will be registered and a straight line added from Beijing to Kunming.

Lines glow white-hot during the biggest travel days of the holiday, which officially runs from Wednesday through Feb. 24 but unofficially includes many days on either end. The period of heightened travel is considered 40 days long.

"You're basically looking at the serious intensity of travel in this holiday. It's not just the world's biggest human migration, it's the biggest mammalian migration," Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo said. "It's a sight to behold. It's quite miraculous that nothing goes terribly wrong."

The Baidu Migration interactive also includes data for individual cities, airports and train stations, and could help transportation officials plan future seasons, Kuo said.

If he used Baidu apps, 28-year-old Li Shengtao would have contributed to the Baidu interactive when he departed by train from Shanghai where he works as an interior designer for his annual, 1,100-kilometer journey to his northern hometown of Shijiazhuang.

"Even if you don't manage to buy a ticket you have to get home somehow," Li said. "That's the tradition of us northern Chinese."

The interactive has been employed for more than details on holiday travel. Last Lunar New Year season, some media outlets suggested, rather dubiously, that many of the bright lines on the map emanating from the city of Dongguan were prostitutes fleeing a crackdown there.

Home for the Holidays in China

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