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The 80-day challenge
By Mu Qian (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-09-22 10:41

The 80-day challenge

Forty-six year old Kunming native Jin Feibao in Algeria, Africa. Photo courtesy of Jin Feibao

While Around the World in 80 Days was the title of a fictional 19th-century French novel, Jin Feibo plans to make it real Chinese experience next year.

Few people doubt the 46-year-old will circumnavigate the earth within the deadline. He already set the world record for conquering the highest peaks of all seven continents and both poles in 18 months and 24 days.

When he conquered the Qomolangma in 2006, he told friends he hadn't reached his peak ambitions but rather, was just getting started.

Then he ascended the highest mountains of all the continents, visited the north and south poles, the Sahara Desert and Greenland, and will set out for the Amazon rainforest in December.

The 80-day challenge

The outdoorsy adventurer is also owner of Yunnan Expedition Entertainment Travel Service and co-founder of Kunming Mountaineering and Expedition Association, the first NGO of its kind in China. His travel service takes clients to wild destinations, such as Xinjiang's Lop Nur Desert and Tibet's Yarlung Zangbo River. While most of his customers are foreigners, he believes a growing number of Chinese will become interested in such tours.

"China's tourism market will become further segmented as the country develops," he says.

Jin is fortunate to make a career out of his passion. The native of Yunnan's provincial capital Kunming, which is known for its vast tourism resources, began getting involved in outdoors activities in the 1980s.

At that time, everything he knew about traveling came from Geographical Knowledge magazine. And because outdoors gear was unavailable, he had to make his own sleeping bag and tent.

In 1986, Jin met an Australian woman in Lijiang, which had not yet become a popular tourism destination. She was a geography teacher traveling around the world on bicycle.

"How could I teach my students geography if I haven't traveled to those places?" she told Jin.

Her words deeply moved him and inspired him to expand the scope of his travels. In the following years, he traveled to all of Yunnan's counties and all of China's provinces before setting out to traverse the world.

"China has produced a lot of famous literati but very few well-known travelers. I hope I'll become one," he says.

As a 21st-century jetsetter, Jin is trying to endow traveling with more content, such as the promotion of environmental protection and cultural exchange.

For his "around the world in 80 days" project, traveling by plane, he will raise money for college students to travel with him, visiting celebrated scientists, writers, artists and universities in various countries along the way.

"Life without traveling is boring. Traveling is the best way for a person to widen his or her scope," he says.

Jin's plan is to continue traveling until he is 70 years old and to become a professor at 60. He will also manage his company to provide services for people who enjoy personalized traveling.

"China has great reserves for developing tourism, and many of these world-class resources haven't been tapped yet," he says.