BEIJING, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) - For 24-year-old Liu Feicheng, the upcoming Qixi Festival, also known as Chinese Valentine's Day, is a good reason to reunite with his girlfriend Mao Yuxin, who lives over 2,000 kilometers away from him.
Liu, a programmer in the southern China city of Shenzhen, flew to Beijing on Saturday to celebrate the festival, which falls on Monday, with Mao, who works in public relations in Beijing.
The day of romance has become a witness to the endeavor of many Chinese couples who are fighting for their dreams in different cities.
A TALE OF TWO CITIES
"I have to fly back the day before Qixi because I have a report to finish," Liu said.
Liu and Mao have been in love since 2012 when they were sophomores at university in the southern city of Guangzhou. After graduating in 2016 they found jobs, and their tale of two cities began to unfold.
Liu said he went to Shenzhen because the company's goal resonated with his own, and it was the place to tap his potential to the fullest.
Born in the north, Mao chose Beijing because the city is close to her home and offered her the best job she could find.
"There were times when I was down but was too busy to tell her," Liu said. "I had to handle difficulties by myself sometimes."
They meet every other month. Liu believes the long-distance relationship has improved him; each time they meet, he is more confident, braver and optimistic.
MODERN MAGPIE BRIDGE
The 2,000-year-old Qixi festival originated from a folk tale where a fairy called Zhi Nyu married a mortal called Niu Lang. Shortly after the couple had two children, the Goddess of Heaven, who was against their marriage, disrupted their life, separating them by the Milky Way after they were sent into the heavens as two separate stars.
According to the story, a group of magpies felt sorry for the lovers and so flew up to heaven every year to form a bridge. It was through this bridge that the lovers reunited every year, but only for a single night.
As many couples are separated by work or study, social media and transport build a modern "Magpie bridge" to unite them in virtual space or face to face.
Wang Lin was dispatched to an air force base in northwest China's Gansu Province, nearly 1,500 kilometers away from his wife Pang Ran, who is a freelance interpreter in Beijing.
Despite distance, they maintain an intimate relationship.
"We chat on WeChat all the time if he isn't on duty, and we call each other two to three times a day," Pang said.
Pang's schedule is flexible enough for her to visit her husband for about two weeks each visit.
She is not expecting a surprise on Qixi and said a call was enough.
"He is not that romantic, and we both don't care too much about festivals like the Valentine's Day," she said.
BELIEF FOR THE FUTURE
For Liu and Mao, the Magpie Bridge will not be for long. They plan to be in the same city within two years.
Beijing and Shenzhen are good destinations for them. Liu can go to Beijing where Internet companies abound, while Mao prefers the southern climate of Shenzhen.
Liu said some of his friends are also experiencing long-distance love. Even though they may not necessarily meet their lovers on Qixi, they are all in good relationship and are independent, Liu said.
"A friend of mine will soon settle in Guangzhou, and his girlfriend will leave Shenzhen to live with him," Liu said.
Some people deem long-distance relationships a torture, but Pang sees it as part of her life.
"It is our choice and also the choice of many military spouses. As long as we love each other, it's not a big deal how far we are separated geographically," she said. "After all, we believe we will live together in the near future."