A young man in a wheelchair arrived in Fuzhou last Thursday after setting off from Beijing 566 days ago.
29-year-old Quan Peng is originally from Gansu province. He began his cross-country trip from Beijing on August 31, 2014. His final destination is Sanya in China’s southernmost Hainan province — still some 1,700km from Fuzhou.
“My fate deprived me of my freedom,” Quan says. “I have to get it back by any means necessary.”
566 days and 2,800km after setting off, Quan arrived in Fuzhou. “This is the fifth province and 22nd city I’ve passed through during my trip,” he told local news.
When he was 17 years old, Quan had surgery to remove a tumor from his spine. Unfortunately, the surgery damaged his nerves and made him paralyzed for life. In 2013, he left his hometown for Beijing to start a life for himself. He found a job as a customer service officer at a company. In his spare time he also managed a Taobao store and sold items on the street.
“Along with wanting to see the world with my own eyes, I also am making this trip so that people will see the importance of having barrier-free facilities,” Quan told reporters.
Quan recalls his first day on the road. He traveled 60km in a single day, using up all his strength so that he fell asleep the second his body hit the hammock.
The morning after, he was woken up by the noise of passing crowds and vehicle. He found that there was a sharp pain shooting through his shoulder, but he didn’t give up and continued on.
Quan says that after the first 500km things became much easier. He began to enjoy his journey more and started to make friends.
He suffered six falls during his trip. The worst one happened at a place where there was no wheelchair ramp installed. He decided instead to roll down a slope and flipped his wheelchair.
At each city he stops at on the way, Quan has made a habit of documenting what barrier-free facilities are offered, and which aren’t.
Quan says that it isn’t the destination that is important, but the journey. He hopes that through his journey people will understand that individuals like himself may be confined to a wheelchair, but it doesn’t limit their abilities or ambition.
He isn’t the first one to take a road trip across China by wheelchair. Last year, a girl in a wheelchair was pushed by her boyfriend on a heart-shaped tour across the country.
Some travelers don’t confine themselves just to China. Last March, a woman in a wheelchair was pushed by her daughters on a trip around the world to 10 foreign countries, wearing out five wheelchairs in the process.