Mom and son rely on kindness of strangers

Updated: 2012-01-18 10:05

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)

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BEIJING - A train ticket can be especially hard to find during Spring Festival as hundreds of millions of people hit the roads and railways.

With a little help from your friends, however, you can get from one corner of the country to the other for next to nothing.

That is what Feng Ying and her 5-year-old son have been doing in the past 15 days, traveling through almost half of China relying on the help of warmhearted strangers.

Mom and son rely on kindness of strangers

Feng Ying and her 5-year-old son set off from the Guangzhou South Railway Station on Jan 1 as part of an online campaign requiring each participant to spend only 140 yuan ($22) to cover their trip home. The mother and son arrived home in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region 15 days later with help from strangers. Provided to China Daily 

They took trains and buses, and stopped in 10 cities across seven provinces on their way from South China's Guangdong province to the Ningxia Hui autonomous region in Northwest China.

On the way they ate local snacks and visited scenic spots and museums, mostly for free.

Such help came from netizens Feng had never met before and who came forward after she posted her travel plans on her micro blog on Dec 10, saying that she was going to take her son on the 3,000-km trip with a budget of only 280 yuan ($44), and calling for free rides and accommodations.

"I did this not because I couldn't afford a plane ticket or a train ticket. Instead, I wanted to show the world to my son - a world where people are without fear or indifference, and have warmth and kindness to strangers," Feng said.

Actually, Feng is not alone. Accompanying her are nine other adventurers who plan to cover their own trips home on 140 yuan - plus help from kindhearted netizens. Their trips are part of a campaign launched by, a major micro blog operator in China.

"Free rides, bicycles or hiking, whatever transportation form the participants use, the rule is they can spend no more than 140 yuan," said Yang Ruichun, deputy editor of

The website chose 10 people from the 350 candidates registered for the campaign, and sent along a film crew.

"At first we worried about Feng's safety, but as she insisted on taking part in the campaign, plus her traveling experience, we decided to give her a shot," Yang said.

Feng headed north to Changsha of Hunan province, and then took a route via Hubei, Henan, Shaanxi and Shanxi provinces before reaching her destination of Yinchuan, the birthplace of her husband.

A dozen days after Feng posted her traveling plans, she had settled most of her schedule, with offers for free train tickets from Guangzhou to Changsha, Hunan's provincial capital, and for free accommodation and meals.

A netizen surnamed Dong in Xinyang, Henan, accommodated Feng.

"The Dong family plants vegetables and raises livestock, and enjoys a peaceful life. The host killed his 4-kg chicken to treat us," Feng said.

"The next morning, my son was woken up by a rooster crowing, the first time he had ever heard one. He was so excited."

Besides providing traveling and living assistance, netizens also took them to a number of scenic spots. Netizens in Xi'an, provincial capital of Shaanxi, celebrated the son's fifth birthday in a restaurant on Jan 11.

"By the end of the trip I felt I was already exhausted, but my son remained excited and energetic," she said.

Hardship also came with happiness during the long trip, as Feng's luggage included winter clothes to handle the 30 C temperature difference between Guangzhou and Yinchuan, milk powder and a child seat for cars.

"Luckily this is not my first time traveling with my son. I know exactly how to take care of him," Feng said.

When she was in her 20s, Feng traveled across many parts of the country, and visited a number of places in Europe between 2001 and 2003, when she was studying there.

She worked as a journalist in Guangzhou before she resigned in 2010 to travel with her son. Last year, she drove her son across 20 states in the United States.

"Taking a child with you is never easy. You have to watch his condition all the time, and you will worry about him getting lost or falling ill," Feng said.

To avoid losing each other, Feng and her son each take a whistle, which they blow in case they can't find each other.

"The trip may sound a little crazy at first, but I believe Feng can handle this well," said Feng's husband Li.

"I kept reading her micro blog to trace their travels. Now I think my wife can bring our son even further away."

Feng and her son arrived in Yinchuan on Jan 14. She visited a children's welfare house in Shizuishan, a city north of Yinchuan on Tuesday, sharing her stories on the road to encourage children there.

After this trip, Feng is already thinking about the next.

"Maybe I will take my son to somewhere outside China. I want him to see more places before he starts school next year, because it is easier to ask for a leave at kindergarten than in primary school."