No room at the inn for some test-takers

Updated: 2012-01-09 08:02

By Guo Nei (China Daily)

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BEIJING - The huge number of test-takers for the national entrance examination for postgraduate studies, which began on Saturday, has caused hotel room shortages around exam venues.

No room at the inn for some test-takers

Candidates for the entrance examination for postgraduate studies prepare before they enter an exam venue in Rizhao, Shandong province, on Sunday. Li Xiaolong/For China Daily

Figures from the Ministry of Education show that more than 1.65 million people were scheduled to take the test this year between Saturday and Monday, up 9.6 percent from last year.

Nearly 120,000 examinees took the test in the capital as the first snow of the new year fell on Saturday.

"Rooms for this weekend were sold out in early December because of the exam," said Fu Cuiping, manager of Home Inn Hotel's Tsinghua University branch, which is located close to exam venues at Peking University and Tsinghua University. Home Inn Hotel is China's biggest budget chain hotel.

"To guarantee a room for this weekend, test-takers started making reservations a month ago," she added., a Chinese travel website specializing in booking hotels, opened a new page for bookings for exam candidates.

The special page lists 74 cities with various exam venues. Examinees can easily click each site to reserve a hotel room nearby. But the website had no rooms to offer at any exam center in the country on Jan 6.

"It was difficult to get a room," recalled Zhang Hui, a former examinee and current graduate student at Shanghai International Studies University. Zhang failed to book a place in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, two years ago and had to seek help from her parents' friends.

With help from her family and friends, Zhang finally got a room within walking distance of the exam site. "I remembered that the hotel was packed with examinees," she added.

Chen Liqun, a 2012 examinee in Nanchang, capital of East China's Jiangxi province, was aware of the shortage of hotels and turned to a broker for reservations. Chen received a brochure from the broker two months prior to the exam, at Nanchang University, where she has been doing her undergraduate studies.

Chen spent 200 yuan ($34) to share a room with another girl for the two exam nights. "I don't mind spending 20 yuan to 30 yuan extra to guarantee a room from the broker," Chen said.

Chen felt lucky to reserve earlier, and mentioned that a friend had been forced to stay in a shabby motel because of delays in making a reservation.

Another of Chen's unlucky schoolmates was forced to share a bed with a stranger because the broker couldn't provide a two-bed room as promised.

Examinees who failed to reserve a hotel looked for other places to sack out. A graduate student at the Beijing Film Academy surnamed Liu rented a bed to an examinee for 100 yuan each day.

Other examinees turned to friends for help. Beijing resident Zeng Lingdi, a 23-year-old engineer, welcomed a high school friend on Jan 5, who was scheduled to take the exam at Peking University.

"But she has to get up at five in the morning to arrive at Peking University on time," said Zeng, who lives in Tongzhou distract, about 31 kilometers from the university.

Luo Wangshu contributed to this story.