Couple in their 60s backpacked around the world and fell back in love

| October 13th, 2011

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The following content is translated script of a CCTV-1 program about an amazingly adventurous and cute couple and how they reignited love sparks during backpacking around the world.

There is a couple aged over 60 but still young in mind. After retirement, they decided to measure the world with their own feet. They just returned from their 180-day backpacking trip around the world last week (late August). During their trip, they live broadcasted their journey through the Internet, generating huge buzz. They are 63-year-old Zhang Guangzhu and his 61-year-old wife Wang Zhongjin, who called themselves “Huajia Backpackers” (Huajia, 花甲 means above 60 years old in Chinese).

 
 
 

Anchorette: It seems that you had the same pose almost at every spot, the flying pose. I think it is the pose only Crayon Shin Chan (Japanese comic character) would make, haven’t seen anyone your age doing it.

Anchorette: It seems that you had the same pose almost at every spot, the flying pose. I think it is the pose only Crayon Shin Chan (Japanese comic character) would make, haven’t seen anyone your age doing it.

Zhang Guangzhu (Zhang): Yes, yes, I did it wherever I go, from South Africa to South Pole, from South Pole to the Devils Marbles in Australia.

Wang Zhongjin (Wang): As long as the floor is flat, we would just jump.

Zhang: You young people can jump, so can we. I am not old at all.

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Narrator: 6 months ago, 63-year-old Zhang Guangzhu and his 61-year-old wife Wang Zhongjin started from Beijing, passed the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and arrived at the snow world of South Pole. Sleeping on hammock in Amazon area, participating an Easter mass in a church of El Salvador, admiring the historical heritages in Machupicchu of Peru, swimming in big wetland, observing different life and culture in a Inca weekend market, starting bonfire under the stars in Australia. This was their around the world trip. They had to cross the equator 6 times back and forth to complete their journey due to the troubles of visa application.

Anchorette: Why do you have to go that far?

Zhang: The world is colorful, the lifestyles are also colorful, we want to experience different life.

Narrator: The more significant experience of their around the world trip is making it to the uninhabited South Pole and taking part in the snow camping organized by carrier. In the freezing tens below zero environment, they dug a big hole among the snow and slept through the night in it like a penguin. The two are like children, they even slipped down a more than 200 meter long snow ramp.

Anchorette: What does it feel like when slipping down the big snow ramp?

Wang: Wonderful! Everybody else was slipping with ass on the snow, I just put my head down and went, the snows were right under my nose flying to both sides. I thought to myself ‘should be ok, I got insurance anyway’.

Narrator: After that, Wang recalled in their blog, “I am really lucky to still have my arms and legs”.

Anchorette: In extreme places like South Pole, you won’t find a hospital when you get sick, no one to turn to when in trouble either.

Wang: I have already led my life to such fun, don’t think any of those matters.

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Narrator: Wang said she didn’t know how to type before, but she gradually learned to use the Internet to keep their travel log. She carried laptop with her everywhere so that she can update their blog and weibo timely. Many people are touched by their brave around the world trip, saying “you are really cool grandpa and grandma” “being young is not about age but about keeping curiosity about the world” “we often describe our life as a journey, but your journey seems much more fulfilled and completed”.

Zhang and Wang are grandparents to an 8 year-old boy. Before retirement, Zhang was a middle level manager in an enterprise, also have worked at bank and Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences at young age but quit the tedious job when he was 42 and started doing business. As for Beijing girl Wang, she was sent down to the countryside in Shanxi Province, half of her life was spent at the Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences, living stable life. After retirement, pension becomes their main income mainly. Their backpacking idea originated from a dinner during the 2007 Spring Festival when they hiked through the Tiger Leaping Gorge. They lodged at a local inn that night and joined the wedding dinner by the host where they met a foreign backpacker who couldn’t speak Chinese at all. They were moved thereafter.

Zhang: I said to my wife, foreigners can come this rurally far in China, why can’t we get out? He can come to China without knowing our language, why can’t we get out even though we don’t know foreign language?

Anchorette: Why was your first reaction?

Wang: I thought he had gone crazy.

Narrator: Coming back from the Tiger Leaping Gorge, Zhang announced his plan to hike in the Alps, then he found that his wife’s plan is more outrageous – drifting in the Amazon.

Anchorette: Girls your age rarely think of doing that.

Wang: When I was sent down to the countryside, I ran about a lot, in the mountains all by myself.

Zhang: She walked in a more than 100 sqkm field on her own. She was dispatched to the countryside at the age of 16.

Narrator: They chose backpacking to see scenery that nobody sees before.

Anchorette: How heavy is your backpack when full?

Wang: Almost 20 kg.

Anchorette: Wouldn’t it be too heavy for your body?

Wang: It seemed we got used to it and didn’t feel it heavy. What’s more, when you put it on the shoulders and feel the weigh, you feel very happy and excited, wanting to get some outdoor fun immediately.

Narrator: Then Zhang began to prepare for the backpacking trip. Besides searching online for information, he spent 7 – 8 hours everyday learning English. Seeing her husband so diligent in learning English, she relaxed. In March 2008, they dashed to the airport carrying their backpacks, and started their journey around the world.

Wang: Getting out from our first stop Athens airport, we were asking the way. But he stood there silently. I said, come on ask.

Anchorette: After all there was one year of English learning already.

Wang: He told me he didn’t know how to speak. I was so pissed, ‘you didn’t know how to speak English but bring me out here’.

Zhang: I could read it out of the book, but my brain was suddenly blank when face the real situation.

Narrator: The old couple finally got the way by talking and gesturing, but forgot to ask about the ship arrival time. As a result, they were left alone at the port during midnight. The first alive thing they encountered was a horde of stray dogs.

Wang: Those dogs ran up to us barking very loud.

Anchorette: And what did you do?

Wang: We stood against each other tightly, waiting for the dogs to leave us alone. It was absolutely memorable experience.

Anchorette: People must say to you that if you go travel in group, that kind of thing would never happen for at least someone would be responsible for you and you won’t be living in sense of insecurity.

Wang: Group is of course the safest for anybody, but the world belongs to everybody.

Zhang: When you are in a group, you can’t see other group, your mind will be generalized and you become a frog under the well.

Anchorette: Many people say uncertainty would bring about fear.

Zhang: True. On the one hand there is fear, but on the other there is new things, things you don’t know before are more like adventure.

Anchorette: Sitting on your own balcony, seeing familiar people, isn’t that a kind of happiness in life?

Zhang: It seems there are some unease, exploring gene in our bone.

Narrator: As time went by, Wang’s advantage in communication revealed.

Anchorette: Before you go, do you know one or two English words?

Wang: I know “okay”, “no”, and “hello” for greeting.

Anchorette: You traveled through Europe with those 3 words?! For instance, when you were in a hotel, do you know how to say ‘sheet’?

Wang: I took a coat there, and “hello” them. They smiled at me, I covered myself with the coat and made a sleeping gesture. They would bring me a blanket then. Then I took a piece of white paper, put it on top of my neck, they then fetched me another white sheet. When it was cold, I just directly (tremble out of freezing cold), and gestured for thicker sheet.

Anchorette: Many Chinese are unwilling to travel like that, one of the reason is that they are afraid of other people’s face or eyeing when they faced situation like that, feeling sort of disgrace.

Wang: They don’t know how to speak Chinese anyways, I don’t know them, they can’t do anything about me.

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Narrator: Different from most elderly people, they chose backpacking. They had driven 15,000 km in Australia. Sometimes they slept in the airport, in car, or youth hostel, which could save money and provided special experience. There was one important thing to their trip.

Wang: This pot is of great importance to us. Smell it.

Anchorette: Instant noodles.

clip_image007Narrator: Just like that, Zhang and Wang’s spent 3 months traveling through over 70 townships in 16 European countries. Then they went to the US, Canada, Mexico, Cuba and Nepals etc. But however economic they traveled, it was inevitably big expenditure.

Anchorette: On a second thought, do you think it worth it?

Zhang: Well, to each his own.

Wang: He thinks that driving an SUV in Beijing, “Kwuang” starts and “Kwuang” stops, he thinks that is fun. But we don’t have an SUV, we just go for it.

Anchorette: Would you worry that once starts, you will addict to traveling and spend all the money?

Zhang: We would do it even we have to sell the house.

Anchorette: Really? You dare to do that?

Wang: It really doesn’t matter.

Anchorette: Many people would think that their parents have been saving for their whole life and pass their fortune to later generation. But for you guys, using the money for your own pleasure, would you worry about what your children may think?

Zhang: Chinese are always too concerned about our next generation. If you work hard for yourself and earn your own money, the happiness would most likely to exceed that of inheriting from others.

Wang: What we are doing is also a kind of heritage to our kids, spiritually speaking.

Wang: Let me show you my treasures. These are my diary, tickets, printings from the trip, I can check back on them when I am old.

Anchorette: So in your mind, you are still…

Wang: I am not old, far away from that.

Narrator: Though they don’t speak much English, they like to communicate with other in varieties of ways. They learned music and dancing from hippies in Amazon, visited local home in France, met a black Santa Maria in South Africa, interviewed by visa officer standing in the water in Peru. Many special experiences in their journey are fascinating to them. Once they discovered that some native tribal Australians would rather give up housing from the government and live in the wild.

Zhang: I discussed with my wife, the understanding of happiness is not concern with high living standards, it is being able to live a life the way you want to. That undermined many of the beliefs we get from books.

Anchorette: So in some way it is also a heavy journey for you.

Zhang: Yes. Along the journey, our beliefs and mindset differed a lot from before. The biggest difference is that we learned to see the world with multiple perspectives, look at varieties of things with global vision.

Anchorette: Why do you emphasize on the multiple perspectives?

Zhang: Because that is how the world is, you get different picture by looking from different angles.

Anchorette: Then what do think singularity brings?

Zhang: Singularity is partial, partial will lead you into fallacy.

Wang: You would re-observe the world and yourself, and reflect on your previous value about right and wrong, about the world.

Narrator: There are 180 million people over the age of 60. Same with most retired elderly, Zhang and Wang should have been taking care of their grandchildren at home. They have been doing that for 6 years.

Anchorette: Many people think you should stay in and take care of grandchild while they are little.

Zhang: Don’t tie yourself on your children’s wheel, because there is no end to it. Elderly should chase for their own happiness.

Narrator: Their 6-year-old grandchild does understand his grandparents, in fact he was influenced by them.

Anchorette: (to the grandchild) Do you want to go on a global trip?

Grandchild: Of course I want to go, it is better than staying at home all the time.

Anchorette: So many children will just dream about staying at home watching cartoons.

Grandchild: But that is too boring, staying in through the morning, and then the afternoon. One day may be ok, but 2 days are too much.

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Narrator: But the child’s mother thinks more of it. Going on a trip like that means risks everywhere. During the trip, Wang experienced one of her biggest danger in life. The other night she had 40 degree fever, medium dehydration and many physical signs went beyond normal. When she was sent to ICU, they again suffered from communication problems. Fortunately their travel insurance service provided them with language help in time. But Wang said she was not afraid because her father’s death had changed her attitude towards life.

Wang: My father died at the age of 90, but he didn’t have a happy late life. So I thought to myself, with nowadays medical level, it is easy to live till 80 – 90 years old. Retiring at the age of 60, there are still 30 some years to go. If you live everyday of it repeating tedious things, you are no more than waiting to die.

Zhang: And if you stay at home all the time, you won’t have vigor, without which you get sick easily. So what do you call this, happiness or misfortune? So we decide not to live like that.

Narrator: Zhang knows that risk is inevitable when going out. So they will have their wills prepared everytime before they go on traveling.

Zhang: I have seen a report about an American couple in their 90s, they planed to go to South America to see the Angel Fall, but their plane crashed and they just gone forever. We say to each other, if we can go away like that, it might not be a misfortune for us. We are prepared for the extreme.

Anchorette: Why would you think that way?

Zhang: Because we think that everybody has a different life, when it comes to an end, there should be varieties of ways too.

Anchorette: There is a line in your will saying “if we went missing, don’t come looking for us”. This line makes your daughter very sad, you know that?

Wang: But if she comes looking for us, the process of searching would make her even more sad, and there would be lots of costs. So just let us quietly go, and she quietly goes with her life.

Anchorette: It is too hard, it is impossible for me.

Wang: I also wrote in my will asking my brothers and relatives not to blame my daughter for not searching for me. And my daughter said if so she would arrange our stuffs and wrote a book about it.

Anchorette: Her word touches you.

Wang: Yes, because she is part of me, she will live on my legacy.clip_image009 Narrator: Finishing their South Pole journey, Wang wrote on her blog, “before retirement we are busy with each other’s business, not much interaction. Through this trip, it seems that we fall back in love all over again.

Zhang: In our age, we are very old couple, many other couples are already out of topics thinking they have run out of words to say to each other after so many years of conversation. But for us, we are not done, there is really feelings of falling in love again.

Narrator: 35 years ago when Wang is an educated youth from Beijing, she met Zhang who was then working in a bank.

Wang: When I saw him at first sight, I knew he was the one.

Anchorette: Really? Is it because he is especially handsome at that time or what?

Wang: I don’t know, it is hard to put it in word.

Zhang: There seemed to this mutual vibes, thinking this woman may be my other half. Really, just by a look.

Narrator: However, due to Zhang’s ordinary background, Wang’s father forbid her workplace to issue the marriage recommendation.

Wang: I just told them, I will wait, whenever you issue, whenever I marry.

Anchorette: What did you say to your father then?

Wang: Nothing. What’s there to say?

Zhang: She is quite rebellious.

Narrator: In their long marriage, they used to be parted for a long time due to workplace difference.

Wang: After so many years, our life is just settled and quiet. And there are 8 years in which we were separated, he was in Hainan, me Shanxi, we almost became strangers. This trip has re-introduced us to one another.

Narrator: During the trip, they are with each other for 24 hours a day, getting to know each other more and more, but sometimes they would quarrel over trivial matters.

Zhang: When she was mad, she ignored me, then we were driving in a car, she threw a book at me.

Anchorette: So Ahyee can be tigerish sometimes.

Zhang: She is much more irritable than me. But we were cool soon.

Wang: A very good thing about him now is that he would try to please me. Any arguments happen, he would come up and apologize and so on. When he puts it that way, I won’t have the nerve to be angry anymore.

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Narrator: This is a journey of two. When Wang was sick in Peru, Zhang carried all the backpacks and cooked for her. Eggs were put into the porridge with skin, stupid, but heartwarming. After Wang was healed, they took this photo when passing by the airport window.

Anchorette: When I look at the photo, I felt touched but also sorry. Touched because you are supporting each other all the way, sorry because you looked really weak and pale in it.

Zhang: I didn’t want her to carry the bags, but she insisted.

Wang: He was pissed for that.

Anchorette: But you just recovered, why didn’t you let him do all the heavy work?

Wang: Think of how heavy those bags would be on his shoulders. I didn’t have the energy to carry the bags but on the other hand wanted to help him very much. I didn’t want him to take all the burdens.

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Anchorette: Going with her, you have one more burden.

Zhang: But it would be meaningless to go on my own. Really, the whole trip wouldn’t mean anything to me without her. Nothing. Only the two of us together can make the trip worthy. I still think this way. Many people said that it was my happiness to have her accompanying me along the way.

Wang: Many people said that it was my blessing to have found an old pal like you. There is a comment on our blog, saying “if you born 30 years later, I will definitely marry you”.

Anchorette: What a big threat.

Wang: I just replied, it wasn’t too late, go get him.

Zhang: But I am not proud of that, I still think this old nanny is the best.

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Narrator: During the interview, they mentioned that they only had one opinion discrepancy in their trip.

Anchorette: Among all the places you have been you, which spot do you think is the most romantic?

Zhang: The night we created bonfire in Australia. We found a field, just the two of us and the bonfire, we were looking up to the stars and quietly lean to each other.

Anchorette: Do you remember what you said at that time?

Wang: I said the fire should make very good roast potato. We made roast corn when we were young, smells especially good. But for me, the most romantic spot is the hammock in Amazon. The ship was full of hammock, mine was hanging next to his, I would touch his hands sometimes. At night when I got cold, I would think he might be cold too and put a coat on him. Just like that, the ship floated slowly, the scenery passed by slowly, and we were appreciating all these beautiful stuffs, letting time slowly slipping away, we felt extremely content with each other’s company.

Anchorette: At their home, I saw a map of China and a map of the world. Before the opening up, these two maps are no more than home décor for many ordinary Chinese families. But now Chinese can traverse the world on foot. Just like how Wang puts it – “we are now still like country folks going downtown, a little bit lame” – that is because we lost almost a century, we hurried our way forward without patting off the dirt on us. But now we are on the way. I would like to dedicate this video to our fathers and mothers, you have been through the hard time, now you can let us support the family and hit the road.

adventure, around the world trip, backpacking, chinese old couples, Happiness, Huajia backpacker

Anchorette: It seems that you had the same pose almost at every spot, the flying pose. I think it is the pose only Crayon Shin Chan (Japanese comic character) would make, haven’t seen anyone your age doing it.

Anchorette: It seems that you had the same pose almost at every spot, the flying pose. I think it is the pose only Crayon Shin Chan (Japanese comic character) would make, haven’t seen anyone your age doing it.

Zhang Guangzhu (Zhang): Yes, yes, I did it wherever I go, from South Africa to South Pole, from South Pole to the Devils Marbles in Australia.

Wang Zhongjin (Wang): As long as the floor is flat, we would just jump.

Zhang: You young people can jump, so can we. I am not old at all.

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Narrator: 6 months ago, 63-year-old Zhang Guangzhu and his 61-year-old wife Wang Zhongjin started from Beijing, passed the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and arrived at the snow world of South Pole. Sleeping on hammock in Amazon area, participating an Easter mass in a church of El Salvador, admiring the historical heritages in Machupicchu of Peru, swimming in big wetland, observing different life and culture in a Inca weekend market, starting bonfire under the stars in Australia. This was their around the world trip. They had to cross the equator 6 times back and forth to complete their journey due to the troubles of visa application.

Anchorette: Why do you have to go that far?

Zhang: The world is colorful, the lifestyles are also colorful, we want to experience different life.

Narrator: The more significant experience of their around the world trip is making it to the uninhabited South Pole and taking part in the snow camping organized by carrier. In the freezing tens below zero environment, they dug a big hole among the snow and slept through the night in it like a penguin. The two are like children, they even slipped down a more than 200 meter long snow ramp.

Anchorette: What does it feel like when slipping down the big snow ramp?

Wang: Wonderful! Everybody else was slipping with ass on the snow, I just put my head down and went, the snows were right under my nose flying to both sides. I thought to myself ‘should be ok, I got insurance anyway’.

Narrator: After that, Wang recalled in their blog, “I am really lucky to still have my arms and legs”.

Anchorette: In extreme places like South Pole, you won’t find a hospital when you get sick, no one to turn to when in trouble either.

Wang: I have already led my life to such fun, don’t think any of those matters.

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Narrator: Wang said she didn’t know how to type before, but she gradually learned to use the Internet to keep their travel log. She carried laptop with her everywhere so that she can update their blog and weibo timely. Many people are touched by their brave around the world trip, saying “you are really cool grandpa and grandma” “being young is not about age but about keeping curiosity about the world” “we often describe our life as a journey, but your journey seems much more fulfilled and completed”.

Zhang and Wang are grandparents to an 8 year-old boy. Before retirement, Zhang was a middle level manager in an enterprise, also have worked at bank and Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences at young age but quit the tedious job when he was 42 and started doing business. As for Beijing girl Wang, she was sent down to the countryside in Shanxi Province, half of her life was spent at the Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences, living stable life. After retirement, pension becomes their main income mainly. Their backpacking idea originated from a dinner during the 2007 Spring Festival when they hiked through the Tiger Leaping Gorge. They lodged at a local inn that night and joined the wedding dinner by the host where they met a foreign backpacker who couldn’t speak Chinese at all. They were moved thereafter.

Zhang: I said to my wife, foreigners can come this rurally far in China, why can’t we get out? He can come to China without knowing our language, why can’t we get out even though we don’t know foreign language?

Anchorette: Why was your first reaction?

Wang: I thought he had gone crazy.

Narrator: Coming back from the Tiger Leaping Gorge, Zhang announced his plan to hike in the Alps, then he found that his wife’s plan is more outrageous – drifting in the Amazon.

Anchorette: Girls your age rarely think of doing that.

Wang: When I was sent down to the countryside, I ran about a lot, in the mountains all by myself.

Zhang: She walked in a more than 100 sqkm field on her own. She was dispatched to the countryside at the age of 16.

Narrator: They chose backpacking to see scenery that nobody sees before.

Anchorette: How heavy is your backpack when full?

Wang: Almost 20 kg.

Anchorette: Wouldn’t it be too heavy for your body?

Wang: It seemed we got used to it and didn’t feel it heavy. What’s more, when you put it on the shoulders and feel the weigh, you feel very happy and excited, wanting to get some outdoor fun immediately.

Narrator: Then Zhang began to prepare for the backpacking trip. Besides searching online for information, he spent 7 – 8 hours everyday learning English. Seeing her husband so diligent in learning English, she relaxed. In March 2008, they dashed to the airport carrying their backpacks, and started their journey around the world.

Wang: Getting out from our first stop Athens airport, we were asking the way. But he stood there silently. I said, come on ask.

Anchorette: After all there was one year of English learning already.

Wang: He told me he didn’t know how to speak. I was so pissed, ‘you didn’t know how to speak English but bring me out here’.

Zhang: I could read it out of the book, but my brain was suddenly blank when face the real situation.

Narrator: The old couple finally got the way by talking and gesturing, but forgot to ask about the ship arrival time. As a result, they were left alone at the port during midnight. The first alive thing they encountered was a horde of stray dogs.

Wang: Those dogs ran up to us barking very loud.

Anchorette: And what did you do?

Wang: We stood against each other tightly, waiting for the dogs to leave us alone. It was absolutely memorable experience.

Anchorette: People must say to you that if you go travel in group, that kind of thing would never happen for at least someone would be responsible for you and you won’t be living in sense of insecurity.

Wang: Group is of course the safest for anybody, but the world belongs to everybody.

Zhang: When you are in a group, you can’t see other group, your mind will be generalized and you become a frog under the well.

Anchorette: Many people say uncertainty would bring about fear.

Zhang: True. On the one hand there is fear, but on the other there is new things, things you don’t know before are more like adventure.

Anchorette: Sitting on your own balcony, seeing familiar people, isn’t that a kind of happiness in life?

Zhang: It seems there are some unease, exploring gene in our bone.

Narrator: As time went by, Wang’s advantage in communication revealed.

Anchorette: Before you go, do you know one or two English words?

Wang: I know “okay”, “no”, and “hello” for greeting.

Anchorette: You traveled through Europe with those 3 words?! For instance, when you were in a hotel, do you know how to say ‘sheet’?

Wang: I took a coat there, and “hello” them. They smiled at me, I covered myself with the coat and made a sleeping gesture. They would bring me a blanket then. Then I took a piece of white paper, put it on top of my neck, they then fetched me another white sheet. When it was cold, I just directly (tremble out of freezing cold), and gestured for thicker sheet.

Anchorette: Many Chinese are unwilling to travel like that, one of the reason is that they are afraid of other people’s face or eyeing when they faced situation like that, feeling sort of disgrace.

Wang: They don’t know how to speak Chinese anyways, I don’t know them, they can’t do anything about me.

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Narrator: Different from most elderly people, they chose backpacking. They had driven 15,000 km in Australia. Sometimes they slept in the airport, in car, or youth hostel, which could save money and provided special experience. There was one important thing to their trip.

Wang: This pot is of great importance to us. Smell it.

Anchorette: Instant noodles.

clip_image007Narrator: Just like that, Zhang and Wang’s spent 3 months traveling through over 70 townships in 16 European countries. Then they went to the US, Canada, Mexico, Cuba and Nepals etc. But however economic they traveled, it was inevitably big expenditure.

Anchorette: On a second thought, do you think it worth it?

Zhang: Well, to each his own.

Wang: He thinks that driving an SUV in Beijing, “Kwuang” starts and “Kwuang” stops, he thinks that is fun. But we don’t have an SUV, we just go for it.

Anchorette: Would you worry that once starts, you will addict to traveling and spend all the money?

Zhang: We would do it even we have to sell the house.

Anchorette: Really? You dare to do that?

Wang: It really doesn’t matter.

Anchorette: Many people would think that their parents have been saving for their whole life and pass their fortune to later generation. But for you guys, using the money for your own pleasure, would you worry about what your children may think?

Zhang: Chinese are always too concerned about our next generation. If you work hard for yourself and earn your own money, the happiness would most likely to exceed that of inheriting from others.

Wang: What we are doing is also a kind of heritage to our kids, spiritually speaking.

Wang: Let me show you my treasures. These are my diary, tickets, printings from the trip, I can check back on them when I am old.

Anchorette: So in your mind, you are still…

Wang: I am not old, far away from that.

Narrator: Though they don’t speak much English, they like to communicate with other in varieties of ways. They learned music and dancing from hippies in Amazon, visited local home in France, met a black Santa Maria in South Africa, interviewed by visa officer standing in the water in Peru. Many special experiences in their journey are fascinating to them. Once they discovered that some native tribal Australians would rather give up housing from the government and live in the wild.

Zhang: I discussed with my wife, the understanding of happiness is not concern with high living standards, it is being able to live a life the way you want to. That undermined many of the beliefs we get from books.

Anchorette: So in some way it is also a heavy journey for you.

Zhang: Yes. Along the journey, our beliefs and mindset differed a lot from before. The biggest difference is that we learned to see the world with multiple perspectives, look at varieties of things with global vision.

Anchorette: Why do you emphasize on the multiple perspectives?

Zhang: Because that is how the world is, you get different picture by looking from different angles.

Anchorette: Then what do think singularity brings?

Zhang: Singularity is partial, partial will lead you into fallacy.

Wang: You would re-observe the world and yourself, and reflect on your previous value about right and wrong, about the world.

Narrator: There are 180 million people over the age of 60. Same with most retired elderly, Zhang and Wang should have been taking care of their grandchildren at home. They have been doing that for 6 years.

Anchorette: Many people think you should stay in and take care of grandchild while they are little.

Zhang: Don’t tie yourself on your children’s wheel, because there is no end to it. Elderly should chase for their own happiness.

Narrator: Their 6-year-old grandchild does understand his grandparents, in fact he was influenced by them.

Anchorette: (to the grandchild) Do you want to go on a global trip?

Grandchild: Of course I want to go, it is better than staying at home all the time.

Anchorette: So many children will just dream about staying at home watching cartoons.

Grandchild: But that is too boring, staying in through the morning, and then the afternoon. One day may be ok, but 2 days are too much.

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Narrator: But the child’s mother thinks more of it. Going on a trip like that means risks everywhere. During the trip, Wang experienced one of her biggest danger in life. The other night she had 40 degree fever, medium dehydration and many physical signs went beyond normal. When she was sent to ICU, they again suffered from communication problems. Fortunately their travel insurance service provided them with language help in time. But Wang said she was not afraid because her father’s death had changed her attitude towards life.

Wang: My father died at the age of 90, but he didn’t have a happy late life. So I thought to myself, with nowadays medical level, it is easy to live till 80 – 90 years old. Retiring at the age of 60, there are still 30 some years to go. If you live everyday of it repeating tedious things, you are no more than waiting to die.

Zhang: And if you stay at home all the time, you won’t have vigor, without which you get sick easily. So what do you call this, happiness or misfortune? So we decide not to live like that.

Narrator: Zhang knows that risk is inevitable when going out. So they will have their wills prepared everytime before they go on traveling.

Zhang: I have seen a report about an American couple in their 90s, they planed to go to South America to see the Angel Fall, but their plane crashed and they just gone forever. We say to each other, if we can go away like that, it might not be a misfortune for us. We are prepared for the extreme.

Anchorette: Why would you think that way?

Zhang: Because we think that everybody has a different life, when it comes to an end, there should be varieties of ways too.

Anchorette: There is a line in your will saying “if we went missing, don’t come looking for us”. This line makes your daughter very sad, you know that?

Wang: But if she comes looking for us, the process of searching would make her even more sad, and there would be lots of costs. So just let us quietly go, and she quietly goes with her life.

Anchorette: It is too hard, it is impossible for me.

Wang: I also wrote in my will asking my brothers and relatives not to blame my daughter for not searching for me. And my daughter said if so she would arrange our stuffs and wrote a book about it.

Anchorette: Her word touches you.

Wang: Yes, because she is part of me, she will live on my legacy.clip_image009 Narrator: Finishing their South Pole journey, Wang wrote on her blog, “before retirement we are busy with each other’s business, not much interaction. Through this trip, it seems that we fall back in love all over again.

Zhang: In our age, we are very old couple, many other couples are already out of topics thinking they have run out of words to say to each other after so many years of conversation. But for us, we are not done, there is really feelings of falling in love again.

Narrator: 35 years ago when Wang is an educated youth from Beijing, she met Zhang who was then working in a bank.

Wang: When I saw him at first sight, I knew he was the one.

Anchorette: Really? Is it because he is especially handsome at that time or what?

Wang: I don’t know, it is hard to put it in word.

Zhang: There seemed to this mutual vibes, thinking this woman may be my other half. Really, just by a look.

Narrator: However, due to Zhang’s ordinary background, Wang’s father forbid her workplace to issue the marriage recommendation.

Wang: I just told them, I will wait, whenever you issue, whenever I marry.

Anchorette: What did you say to your father then?

Wang: Nothing. What’s there to say?

Zhang: She is quite rebellious.

Narrator: In their long marriage, they used to be parted for a long time due to workplace difference.

Wang: After so many years, our life is just settled and quiet. And there are 8 years in which we were separated, he was in Hainan, me Shanxi, we almost became strangers. This trip has re-introduced us to one another.

Narrator: During the trip, they are with each other for 24 hours a day, getting to know each other more and more, but sometimes they would quarrel over trivial matters.

Zhang: When she was mad, she ignored me, then we were driving in a car, she threw a book at me.

Anchorette: So Ahyee can be tigerish sometimes.

Zhang: She is much more irritable than me. But we were cool soon.

Wang: A very good thing about him now is that he would try to please me. Any arguments happen, he would come up and apologize and so on. When he puts it that way, I won’t have the nerve to be angry anymore.

clip_image010

Narrator: This is a journey of two. When Wang was sick in Peru, Zhang carried all the backpacks and cooked for her. Eggs were put into the porridge with skin, stupid, but heartwarming. After Wang was healed, they took this photo when passing by the airport window.

Anchorette: When I look at the photo, I felt touched but also sorry. Touched because you are supporting each other all the way, sorry because you looked really weak and pale in it.

Zhang: I didn’t want her to carry the bags, but she insisted.

Wang: He was pissed for that.

Anchorette: But you just recovered, why didn’t you let him do all the heavy work?

Wang: Think of how heavy those bags would be on his shoulders. I didn’t have the energy to carry the bags but on the other hand wanted to help him very much. I didn’t want him to take all the burdens.

clip_image012

Anchorette: Going with her, you have one more burden.

Zhang: But it would be meaningless to go on my own. Really, the whole trip wouldn’t mean anything to me without her. Nothing. Only the two of us together can make the trip worthy. I still think this way. Many people said that it was my happiness to have her accompanying me along the way.

Wang: Many people said that it was my blessing to have found an old pal like you. There is a comment on our blog, saying “if you born 30 years later, I will definitely marry you”.

Anchorette: What a big threat.

Wang: I just replied, it wasn’t too late, go get him.

Zhang: But I am not proud of that, I still think this old nanny is the best.

clip_image013

Narrator: During the interview, they mentioned that they only had one opinion discrepancy in their trip.

Anchorette: Among all the places you have been you, which spot do you think is the most romantic?

Zhang: The night we created bonfire in Australia. We found a field, just the two of us and the bonfire, we were looking up to the stars and quietly lean to each other.

Anchorette: Do you remember what you said at that time?

Wang: I said the fire should make very good roast potato. We made roast corn when we were young, smells especially good. But for me, the most romantic spot is the hammock in Amazon. The ship was full of hammock, mine was hanging next to his, I would touch his hands sometimes. At night when I got cold, I would think he might be cold too and put a coat on him. Just like that, the ship floated slowly, the scenery passed by slowly, and we were appreciating all these beautiful stuffs, letting time slowly slipping away, we felt extremely content with each other’s company.

Anchorette: At their home, I saw a map of China and a map of the world. Before the opening up, these two maps are no more than home décor for many ordinary Chinese families. But now Chinese can traverse the world on foot. Just like how Wang puts it – “we are now still like country folks going downtown, a little bit lame” – that is because we lost almost a century, we hurried our way forward without patting off the dirt on us. But now we are on the way. I would like to dedicate this video to our fathers and mothers, you have been through the hard time, now you can let us support the family and hit the road.

adventure, around the world trip, backpacking, chinese old couples, Happiness, Huajia backpacker

10 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. freehrm says:

    Coolest Chinese couple ever.

    • nonamemon says:

      But they didn’t have sex naked in the great white north outdoors in the wild bear infested woods of Canada’s black fly country.

      So not too cool, just ok.

  2. orly says:

    finally some cool chinese ppl news. yay!

  3. Carl says:

    phew, finally an article on China that doesn’t bash it.

    Good read.

    going to do that when i’m old. hope snow caps still exist then lol

  4. terror says:

    Chinese people shouldn’t be allowed to travel outside China because they will infect others with their un-decent commie ways.

    Those old geezers probably worked for the CCP and that’s why they can afford to travel. Meanwhile, billions of ethnic minorities in China are being brutally murdered.

    • nonamemon says:

      The Amerikans goes around the world killing and making war everywhere they go, many billions of ethnic minorities in the world are being brutally murdered by them and NATO, and they act so proud like they own the world.

    • Tree says:

      such a stupid man…being cynical is not cool and you are a person just hear some rumor and then believe them…pathetic…

  5. nonamemon says:

    Amerikans are NOT wanted in many countries, but that don’t stop them from fucking up the world.
    They still go wherever they want to, so why not the Chinese.

  6. balanced says:

    cool story bro

  7. Azia says:

    This intourcdes a pleasingly rational point of view.

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