By Jane Lanhee Lee
HAINING, China (Reuters) - A luggage trolley that converts into a seat and a pole with pads that props up sleepy passengers are just a couple of the gadgets intrepid Chinese have devised to help make their annual New Year train trips home a little more comfortable.
About 200 million people in China are expected to take trains home for the New Year's holiday at the weekend in what has been described as the world's largest annual migration.
Some opt for standing-only tickets on packed trains to save money on trips that can last three days.
This year, Chinese microblogs have been abuzz with gadgets and inventions that could help make grueling journeys a little easier.
One of the most talked-about is the "Hard Seat Treasure", a metal pole with pads attached that is meant to prop up a sleepy traveler and ensure he or she does not fall out of their seat when they nod off. But not everyone is a fan.
"It's a burden to carry," said Li Kang, a migrant worker from the southwest province of Guizhou who tried it out. "When I lean on it, my body feels suspended."
Former physics teacher and avid amateur inventor Zhou agreed. He invented the "Grass Roots Travel Treasure" - a trolley with what looks like a metal mop handle sticking out of it that converts into a seat.
It also features holders for bottles that Zhou insists can be filled with sodium percarbonate powder and water to make oxygen - a breath of fresh air for anyone suffering in a stuffy, smoky train carriage.
The 67-year-old Zhou has such faith in his gadget he's going to put it to the test himself on a 31-hour train trip.
"I could have bought a ticket for a sleeper but I really wanted to try this out so I can see what doesn't work and improve it," Zhou said at his home in a small city near Shanghai before setting off.
There are lots of other ideas out there.
One user of the Sina Weibo microblog site suggested taking along a squawking rubber chicken to make other passengers get out of the way in crowded aisles.
Another recommended adult diapers.
But the most popular accessory remains a simple plastic bucket, that can be turned over and used as a seat, or for other purposes.
(Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee, writing by Elaine Lies; editing by)