Xin­jiang to Bei­jing on foot no mean feat

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By MAO WEIHUA in Urumqi and ZHANG YI in Bei­jing

Abla­jan Muhtar, owner of an auto re­pair fac­tory in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion, could choose to fly to Bei­jing in three hours. In­stead, he has be­gun a three­month jour­ney on foot for a benev­o­lent cause.

The 43-year-old started his trek in the re­gional cap­i­tal of Urumqi on April 8, and is plan­ning to ar­rive in Bei­jing this month.

Muhtar is hop­ing to raise more than 200,000 yuan ($29,000) to be do­nated to 10 schools in Xin­jiang to help them build soc­cer fields and pur­chase equip­ment for stu­dents and soc­cer coaches.

“In ad­di­tion to col­lect­ing do­na­tions, I have another mis­sion — spread­ing the good virtues of lo­cal peo­ple dur­ing my jour­ney to Bei­jing. I want peo­ple across China to learn about the gen­eros­ity, hos­pi­tal­ity, tol­er­ance and sense of unity that peo­ple in Xin­jiang pos­sess,” he said.

In­spired by the well-known na­tional leg­end of 75-year-old Un­cle Qur­ban, who ven­tured from the re­gion to Bei­jing in 1956 on the back of a mule to meet Chair­man Mao, Muhtar de­cided at the be­gin­ning of this year to make the same jour­ney.

He spent three months pre­par­ing for his trip. “This is my Chi­nese dream. I will over­come all the ob­sta­cles I face to ac­com­plish my dream.”

Com­plet­ing the 3,282-kilo­me­ter jour­ney on foot will not be easy. The route will see him pass through nu­mer­ous dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ments and spans five ad­min­is­tra­tive ar­eas from Xin­jiang in North­west China to Gansu prov­ince, and then on to the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion and He­bei prov­ince in North China be­fore reach­ing Bei­jing.

Ac­cord­ing to the de­sign of the route, Muhtar must pass through a more than 100-km sec­tion of desert and an un­pop­u­lated area of more than sev­eral hun­dred square me­ters, as well as climb over the Qin­ling Moun­tains in Cen­tral China.

For most of the jour­ney, he must live in a tent that he will carry in his 1-meter-tall back­pack.

Bokram Elyashan­baba, a pho­tog­ra­pher and friend of Muhtar, said the jour­ney will push him to his lim­its and is of im­por­tant sig­nif­i­cance be­cause of the con­nec­tion to Un­cle Qur­ban.

“We need to wit­ness another ex­em­plary deed in our time. I have full con­fi­dence in Muhtar to ac­com­plish his dream,” Elyashan­baba said.

Muhtar’s wife, Pa­tima Ma­mat, said she fully sup­ports the en­deavor.

“My hus­band has al­ways loved hiking. When he talked to me about his first hiking ex­pe­ri­ence from Urumqi to Atux in Xin­jiang, I felt a mix­ture of hap­pi­ness and con­cern for him,” Ma­mat said.

“When he told me he will make 100 new friends dur­ing this trip, I could sense his de­ter­mi­na­tion,” she said, ad­ding that his lat­est adventure is sig­nif­i­cantly longer than his first one. “He has my full sup­port and en­cour­age­ment.”

In May, Muhtar walked through an area with gale­force winds in Tur­pan, once a cross­roads of Cen­tral Asia and a strate­gic stop on the over­land trade route link­ing China with an­cient In­dia, Per­sia and Rome.

“Each step re­quired a lot of strength and my face was be­ing slammed by waves of sand blown up by the strong gale,” he said, ad­ding that sand blew into his mouth and he had to crouch down to pro­tect him­self.

“I am aware that the jour­ney will be ex­tremely tough. The val­ley ahead is lo­cated be­tween a wild desert and moun­tains. How­ever, I think I will man­age to get through it.”

Muhtar, whose trip will cost an es­ti­mated 20,000 yuan, is be­ing spon­sored by a char­ity or­ga­ni­za­tion founded in Septem­ber by Wang Long, a na­tive of Xin­jiang who was pre­sented with a Good Peo­ple in China award for his brav­ery in sav­ing peo­ple from a fire.

In each city that Muhtar trav­els to, the or­ga­ni­za­tion will as­sist him in pub­li­ciz­ing his cause to help raise money for schools. In ad­di­tion to helping with Muhtar’s trip, it also reg­u­larly or­ga­nizes do­na­tions of books and oth­ers ma­te­ri­als for chil­dren in need.

I want peo­ple across China to learn about the gen­eros­ity, hos­pi­tal­ity, tol­er­ance and sense of unity that peo­ple in Xin­jiang pos­sess.” Abla­jan Muhtar, owner of an auto re­pair fac­tory in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion

Con­tact the writ­ers at zhang_yi@chi­nadaily.


Abla­jan Muhtar with his wife and chil­dren be­fore be­gin­ning his hike to Bei­jing from Urumqi, the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

Wang cy­cles in front of Qian­men Gate in Bei­jing.

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