Grandpa glo­be­trots

Yi Ji­u­fan vis­ited 5 con­ti­nents since re­tir­ing in 1994

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By FENG ZHIWEI in Chang­sha fengzhi­wei@chi­nadaily.com.cn Liang Shuang con­trib­uted to this story.

Age has proven no bar­rier to Yi Ji­u­fan’s wan­der­ing ways.

De­spite be­ing 81 years old, since re­tir­ing two decades ago, this grand­fa­ther has vis­ited five con­ti­nents and cov­ered pretty much all of China on his trav­els.

Yi, who owns a small busi­ness in Chang­sha, cap­i­tal of Hu­nan prov­ince, be­gan his odyssey in 1994 with a trip to Bei­jing for his 60th birth­day.

“Since then, I’ve been ad­dicted to travel,” he said. “Grad­u­ally, I’ve trav­eled through the whole of China.”

Af­ter a trip to the United States in 2008, which took him on a he­li­copter ride over the Grand Canyon, he de­cided he wanted to see more of the world.

He says he has seen pen­guins in South Africa and toured the pic­turesque ru­ral land­scapes of New Zealand and the Nether­lands, although he says one of his only regrets is miss­ing out on a sub­ma­rine ride in­Hawaii.

Yet noth­ing com­pares with his home prov­ince, he added. “When it comes to nat­u­ral beauty, there is no place like Zhangji­a­jie,” he said, re­fer­ring to the moun­tain­ous scenic area in Hu­nan that was the in­spi­ra­tion for Hal­lelu­jah Moun­tains in 2009 movie Avatar. “It’s the best in the world.”

Yi’s wife, Zhang Yuqing, 73, has sup­ported her hus­band’s wan­der­lust.

“I like trav­el­ing, too,” she said. “But un­for­tu­nately I’m not ca­pa­ble of trav­el­ing abroad af­ter hav­ing surgery onmy leg.”

The cou­ple plans to visit Rus­sia to­gether once Zhang is fully re­cov­ered.

They are con­stantly re­minded of Yi’s ex­ploits, as three walls of their home in Chang­sha are en­tirely de­voted to his travel pho­tog­ra­phy.

The walls are di­vided into 16 sec­tions, each rep­re­sent­ing a dif­fer­ent area of the world. By the door hangs a card that some of Yi’s travel com­pan­ions made for him in case he gets left­be­hind­while­tak­ing pho­tos.

The card’s note reads in English: “I come from Chang­sha, Hu­nan prov­ince, China. Got lost trav­el­ing and I need help.”

Yi is among many se­nior Chi­nese cit­i­zens us­ing their twi­light years to see the world.

Chen Aiwu, 64, fromWuhan in Hubei prov­ince, em­barked on a 19-day self-drive tour of the west­ern US with her hus­band this year, while 65-yearold Wang Zhongjin from Bei­jing has back­packed across all seven con­ti­nents with her hus­band.

FENG ZHIWEI / CHINA DAILY

Yi Ji­u­fan, 81, points to Rus­sia — his next in­tended desti­na­tion — on the world map at his home in Chang­sha, Hu­nan prov­ince. Since re­tir­ing, he has trav­eled to five con­ti­nents.

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