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A step on the road to journey of discovery

By Shi Xi | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-05 06:36
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A scene from The Forever Walk: Salopek and a friend having lunch with Lu Wanjiang, a ranger at Yulong Snow Mountain. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Salopek's journey in China is being recorded by a film crew from Shanghai Media Group's Documentary Center for a 10-episode documentary series entitled The Forever Walk: China.

"We are not 'showing' a foreigner traveling around China; rather, we are 'following' him to explore the country," says Wang Xiangtao, director of the series.

Salopek's stories are shared in his columns for National Geographic and across 14 overseas social media accounts. The Forever Walk: China is just another outlet to present China through his eyes.

"Life is full of uncertainties, and the same is even more true in Salopek's journey, as every stranger he encounters may make a difference," says Wang, who adds that their plans could be changed at any moment depending on the actual situation.

For instance, according to Wang, Salopek met a Chinese ranger while walking in Lijiang, Yunnan, who invited him to join in with his work. Taking it as an opportunity to learn about the life of a ranger and explore a new area, Salopek gladly accepted the offer.

The walk, which was supposed to take three hours, ended up lasting more than six. "It is completely unpredictable. We face such challenges when we record in real time," Wang says.

A scene from The Forever Walk: trying his hand at picking tea in Ya'an, Sichuan province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Wang describes Salopek as "one of the most humble Americans I have ever met". His humility is derived from his rich life experience, having traveled to more than 50 countries, and spent the last nine years walking through Eurasia.

He is still currently on the road, walking across China, which will incorporate at least 7 million footsteps. He believes that slowing down is one way to find meaning, and that walking is humankind's original form of both moving and thinking.

"After working in our globalized era's media-saturated environment for years, I decided that the problem isn't that we don't have enough information in our lives — we're drowning in data. What we're missing is meaning," says Salopek.

Zheng Zheng contributed to this story.

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