Tire, time and trouble for a big adventure

(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-14 10:31


Hubei Province native Cheng Yanhua, 41, paddles his rubber tire and basin on the Huangpu River in Shanghai at the end of a 44-day trip along the Yangtze River, August 13, 2007. [Shanghai Daily]

CHENG Yanhua, 41, from Hubei Province drifted into town the hard way yesterday - he had just paddled a truck tire for two months down the Yangtze River from Chongqing City in south-west China.

His homemade raft was just a rubber tire with a big plastic basin inside it. He used a couple of home-made bamboo paddles and had no safety equipment with him at all.

"It's almost a miracle that a man can survive a trip along the river floating on a tire," said Wang Jiqin, a local maritime officer, who at first was suspicious of the adventure.

But Cheng was able to produce newspapers which he had collected from the provinces he travelled through, all with reports of his adventures.

He also kept a daily logbook and collected stamps from the sporting authorities of every city and county he passed through.

Cheng said he chose to paddle with the tide everyday to make the trip easier but having to crunch his legs up to fit inside the basin for nearly 10 hours everyday was painful.

Cheng said he also survived several close escapes when his craft was caught by whirlpools or strong currents.

Cheng was stopped by the Lanzhou Road maritime authority when he floated along the Huangpu River by Yangpu Bridge Road just before noon yesterday.

The maritime authority finally agreed to let him complete his voyage and one of the authority's boats escorted him to dry land on the other side of the Huangpu River in Pudong.

Cheng was immediately surrounded by a crowd of the reporters and photographers when he set foot on shore at the Seagull Place restaurant on Riverside Avenue, near Pudong's landmark Oriental Pearl Tower.

"I had often heard of foreigners engaging on adventures on rivers like the Amazon but it has hardly ever been done in China. It was my way of welcoming the Olympics," Cheng said yesterday. All the way down the river his craft proudly flew the national flag.

In late July, 27-year-old Wu Xiaoliang, a Tsinghua University graduate, drifted to Shanghai along the Yangtze River. But he was forced to give up the 2,000-kilometer dinghy ride as local maritime officials refused to allow the adventure in Huangpu River out of security concerns.


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