It may not be Everest, but it’s a 10-year expedition. Lei Dian Sheng worked in Beijing and took up several part-time jobs which included selling eggs to raise funds for his expedition. When he was ready, he shaved his head and sold his house! His original plan was to set off on 1 January 2000. Yes, first day of the new millennium, but he heard that a lao wai was planning to do the same thing. Lei decided that the first man to walk through every province in China has to be a Chinese and brought his trip forward to 20 October 1998.
We can tell what Lei’s main intention was. More questionable behaviour follow. Needless to say, travelling China on foot requires some serious training and preparation. For that, Lei Dian Sheng started off lugging a gas tank around. One night, he was stopped by the police and questioned. They let him off after searching his house. I would lock him up for psychiatric assessment. Then, he decided to have his appendix prophylactically removed without anaesthetic because he thought the wound would heal faster that way!
Like many adventurers in the limelight (especially those who literally go to extremes), Lei Dian Sheng had his fair share of detractors. Still within earshot of the reporters when he was setting off from Harbin, someone asked his elder brother whether he was on some psychiatric medication. Another person announced his prediction – that he would turn back from Shuang Cheng, some 50km from his start point.
Unperturbed, Lei Dian Sheng walked on. On the afternoon of the same day, Lei arrived at a village called Bao Jia Wo Bao some 22km from his start point. Amazingly, Lei wrote that his feet were already badly blistered. I’ve walked longer distances in a day without getting any blisters. This makes me wonder if Lei had worn proper shoes. Hadn’t he encountered similar situations during training and figured out how to mitigate this problem?
The best part of this chapter has to be Lei’s discovery of an incredible way to manage his blistered. An old man on a horse-drawn cart cut off some horsehair from his horse’s tail and gave it to Lei. He asked him to thread the hair through a large bore needle, then pass the hair through the blister. Leave the horsehair in the blister overnight and pull it out the next morning. Lei claimed that it worked!