Between February and June 2015, my wife and her friend Darrah Blackwater from the United States walked from Zhongshan in Guangdong to Beijing, a journey over 2,300 kilometres in order to raise money for disabled friends. The journey was tough, very tough there were many times when it would have been easy to finish and forget about it. But there were many things, mostly related to our disabled friends, who motivated her and helped her to push herself through the difficult times. Here is part one of her story

The Walk Day 1

Many friends came to the departure ceremony. Sabrina brought us beautiful sunflowers and champagne. My lovely volunteer friends bought me some kneepads and one of them even gave me a “safe amulet” that she asked specially for me from a temple. I was very touched at that moment. We left Sunwen park at 9am. When we walked past the International Hotel, I saw the volunteer who gave me the amulet was waiting for us with some other volunteers. They hand me a girdle and ankelpad. I was surprised by the reason which was in the park, they saw my backpack was very heavy and they don’t want my back get hurt, so they bought the pads for me immediately. I was too grateful to have any words. It was very difficult for disabled people to travel around, especially with the poor facilities in China. To some of them, especially leg disabled and blind friends, maybe they have never travelled further than Guangdong. As a volunteer for disabled, my walk to Beijing is also their dream, a dream of walking freely. It will be a dream fulfilled for both me and them if I can make it, so there is nothing can stop me to walk all the way to Beijing.

Today we will stay overnight in my parent’s home in Dongsheng. There are about 15 people walking with us. After the first one and a half hour, May wanted to carry my backpack for a try. Actually, her shoes are not suitable for long walk and I don’t want her feet got hurt, so Jerry took it over after half an hour. We stop for lunch in Tanbei. After lunch Jerry said he will take a bus back to Shiqi with Ryan and Mavis because every time when he thinks of I am leaving him for 4 months, the longer we walk together the harder for him to say goodbye. We had a hug, I can see tears in his eyes. I was sad too but I also thought “Now you know my feelings when you rode your bike to Xinjiang. It’s my turn now”.

Jerry left with sorrows and I marched forward. My friends fought to carry my backpack for me. Ashai is a very thin girl but she is strong and she walked fast even carrying over 15kg. Quhua is also thin and she can walk long, I tried few times to get the backpack back but got refused. It was lucky that they helped me because my left foot had two blisters already when we were in Tanbei. Not very long after I got my backpack back In Dongsheng, some volunteers were waiting us in a petrol station. While we were greeting to each other, May’s husband Paul arrived with his Benz and some chocolate. It is cheerful to see them on the way. When we finally got to my parent’s home, we were too tired to talk at all. Darrah and I took off our shoes straight away.

Had dinner with my parents and some relatives and neighbours, we went back to my parent’s home. My father showed his special hospitality with his whisky collection and named the night as “Whisky tasting night”. Brian who will walk to Guangzhou with us showed his talent which changed a piece of beer bottle glass into a piece of art with a deer horn. My neighbours and my mom and my aunt were laughing loudly about their old days. Darrah drank a lot and she called her mom who is living in America with tears. Brian enjoyed his whisky very much, he said my father was the only Chinese person who has so many different brand of whisky. He kept saying my father is his best Chinese friend now. When my father brought out a bottle of VSOP and vsop glasses, everyone was almost fell off their chairs and couldn’t stop laughing and say “Oh my god!” I was wise that didn’t touch any of those spirits. My left foot was swollen even though I have done some treatment about the blisters. It happened once when I was training in Doumen, same foot same spots. Hope it gets better by tomorrow morning.

After the first day walk, I have some summaries:

1. There were not many people know about our walk, only our friends and volunteers came to the departure. We should have talked to some PR companies and let them do a promotion package to raise awareness.

2. We walked with some friends. They walked fast because they had no backpacks. We carried over 15kgs of backpacks and kept the same pace, that’s why we felt very tired, and our feet now have problems.

3. My backpack was too heavy. I should carry not over one third of my body weight.



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Jerry Grey

Jerry Grey


I’m British born Australian living in Guangdong and have an MA in Cross Cultural Change Management. I write mostly positively about my China experiences