For more than nine days, for more than 60 miles, thousands of Beijing-bound vehicles have come to a virtual stop on a highway from Inner Mongolia to the nation's capital.
Truck driver Bai Xiaolong, 30, said it took him five days to navigate the 350-mile journey to Tianjin, a port city east of Beijing. He said he spent much of that time reading, text-messaging and sleeping rather than accelerating.
"There was one day that I didn't move, not even an inch," Bai said.
The traffic jam, triggered by road construction, began 10 days ago and could last for three more weeks, authorities said.
In the worst-hit stretches, drivers pass the time sitting in the shade of their immobilized trucks, playing cards, sleeping on the asphalt or bargaining with price-gouging food vendors. Many trucks that carry fruit and vegetables are not refrigerated, and the cargoes are assumed to be rotting.
On Sunday, the eighth day of the near-standstill, trucks moved little more than one mile on the worst section, said Zhang Minghai, a traffic director in Zhangjiakou, a city about 90 miles northwest of Beijing. China Central Television reported Tuesday that some vehicles had been stuck for five days.