Travelling hopefully, with a dog, a wheelchair and a lot of love




Ding Yizhou and his girlfriend Lai Min take a break for picnic lunch by the highway within the

boundary of Wuxuan County, southwest Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.  

Photo –





Travelling hopefully,

with a dog, a wheelchair and a lot of love


By Bai Xu, Zhang Ying and Li Bin



It is easy to draw a heart in the sand and say “I love you”, but few have the heart of Ding Yizhou (丁一舟), 28, who is drawing a heart across China with the tracks of his girlfriend’s wheelchair.

Their journey started from Liuzhou City in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Saturday of January 3. Ding estimates that it will take three years. “But I hope it will never end,” he said.

His girlfriend Lai Min (赖敏), 28, was diagnosed with spinocerebellar ataxia when she was a little girl. It is a progressive, degenerative genetic disease. Her mom and uncle both died from it. Her dad was killed in a traffic accident in 2009.

Lai found her physical condition had deteriorated early last year, and she lost the ability to walk unaided. “What will you do if I die one day?” she asked friends on her microblog.

The message was seen by her primary school classmate Ding, who got contact with her and – voila! – they fell in love.

Ding spent all his savings on Lai’s medical treatment, but to no avail. In despair, Lai told Ding her wish, which sounds like a reality version of the film “One Week”.

Rather than stay in bed and waiting for my last breath, I would rather record my image with a camera in all the beautiful places across China,” she said.

Ding could do nothing but agree. Crazy as the idea may seem to some, the man had a plan. Lai sits in her wheelchair, which Ding pulled by his pet dog A Bao. Ding rides his bicycle while the white sheepdog trotts by his side.

With only 200 yuan (about 32 U.S. dollars) between them, Ding planned to earn money by doing hairdressing for villagers or through farm work along the way. At night when there are no hotels, they will pitch a tent.

So many people were touched by their story. Passers-by gave them money, whether they wanted it or not. Within five days, they had nearly 11,000 yuan, but Ding refuses sponsorship.

Drivers have offered to give them a free ride, which they politely reject. “The best scenery is on the way,” Ding says. “We don’t want to miss a thing.”

When Xinhua reporters caught up with them on Wednesday of January 7, the pair were on a national highway in Laibin, about 50 kilometers from where they started. It was raining. Lai held an umbrella; A Bao wore a rain coat, while the thin, sun-burned Ding stumbled in the rain, his shoes already worn out.

An old friend, Mr. Pan, gave Ding a pair of new shoes. “He was such a naughty boy at school,” Pan said. “I never imagined that he could be so responsible and dedicated. Love can change a man.”

Lai and Ding are heading for Nanning, capital of Guangxi, where someone has donated an electro-tricycle for them. It will definitely speed up their journey.

Then it’s scenic Yunnan, and later Tibet. “It will be summer when we reach there, so we won’t feel the cold,” Ding said.

Before they started out on their crazy quest, the pair didn’t think much about the future, but after just a few days, their ideas have changed.

“When the journey is over, I will create a foundation with the donated money to help people like Lai,” said Ding.

Lai told Xinhua they will get married along the way. “But compared with a wedding, I am just looking forward to the trip,” she grinned.





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