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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
65-year-old man retraces red army march
     2015-August-21  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Zhang Xiaoyi

    417880236@qq.com

    MO XIAOPEI, a 65-year-old retired urban history researcher at Shenzhen Museum, successfully finished a 25,000-kilometer journey retracing the trek the red army made decades ago.

    The journey, which took him 304 days, started at Ruijin in Jiangxi Pro-vince and ended at Wuqi Township in Shaanxi Province on July 6. Having strictly followed the red army’s route, Mo’s footprints covered 10 provinces — Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hunan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu, Ningxia and Shaanxi.

    Mo’s wife Liu Dongli accompanied him on the journey. She walked for the first half, but had to take a bus for the second half because she injured her knee after falling. Mo was also wounded in the fall, spraining his hand, but he was able to continue his walk.

    Aside from the accident, harsh weather, poor living conditions and chronic diseases made their journey sound like an ordeal. Mo suffered from hyperthyroidism and Liu from hyperlipemia, high blood pressure and heart disease. But they did not let any of those things stop them.

    An odyssey, an old man

    Walking 25,000 kilometers would be an arduous enough journey for someone in his prime. Anticipating difficulties, Mo was well-prepared. He practiced with trial walks in advance.

    “We practiced walking here in Shenzhen. First, we would walk eight to 10 kilometers. Later, we would walk a further 40 kilometers,” said Mo. “We did a three-day trial at Jinrui, where we carried backpacks that weighed more than 20 kilograms. That was when we decided we had to carry as little as possible.”

    After the preparations, Mo and Liu began their long trek at a calculated but effective pace. They walked 30 kilometers per day, starting before 6:30 a.m. The early-bird trekkers planned to reach their daily destination, usually a small town or village, around noon, where they would have lunch and find a post office to buy stamps from each place they went.

    Yet even the most well-planned adventures often meet with unexpected difficulties, such as extreme weather.

    “The biggest problems we encountered when hiking in the south were heat and rain,” Mo recalled. “In the north, it was the cold.”

    At a high-altitude area in Sichuan, they not only experienced the freezing climate but also fatigue from the thin oxygen.

    “We also faced a water shortage in Gansu,” said Mo. “The well water in Gansu looks clear, but tastes salty,” added Liu. Gansu is a loosely populated and impoverished place, where Mo would sometimes walk more than the planned 30 kilometers and still not find a place to stay the night.

    Aggressive animals like wolves and wild dogs were a potential danger too. Mo once encountered a wild dog along an expressway in a prairie in northern Sichuan. After being warned by local police about the wild dogs in the area, Mo took along a tree branch as weapon. “When I saw it come across the road toward me, I swung the branch and stayed calm. The dog saw it and left,” Mo recalled.

    A historic journey, friends made

    The journey was not all about facing adversities; it was also about meeting people and hearing about the lives and stories of the red army.

    “I have always wanted to learn more about China’s situation, especially in impoverished and remote areas. Some of these places happen to sprawl along the route the red army marched decades ago,” Mo explained as he talked about what prompted him and his wife to make the journey in the first place.

    In the 10 provinces covered by the route there are over a dozen ethnic minorities, including Miao, Yao, Dong, Buyi, Yi, Hui, Li and Zang (Tibetan) peoples. The population (both ethnic Han and minorities) is approximately 3 million.

    Mo and Liu talked to local residents and jotted down their stories. They also took over 20,000 photos. Mostly, they are snapshots of ordinary people like monks, ranch owners, restaurant servers and primary school teachers.

    Mo habitually taped the daily experience on his smartphone, and sent out a WeChat moment attached with photos every day.

    “Look, this is the Tibetan girl I talked about. She is called Sheng Geichu. And these are the photos of her family and her dressing in traditional outfits,” said Mo, sliding on the screen of his phone. He added the people they met on WeChat and talked to them even after the journey ended.

    Liu, however, recorded everything the old-fashioned way — keeping a diary. “I narrated down all the details of the people we met,” said Liu. “There are phone numbers, addresses and so on.” They kept the addresses, so they could send back the developed photos to their newly made friends.

    Flipping through one of the photo albums, Liu pointed at a snapshot of Ding Zhu — a Tibetan rancher residing in the northern plateau of Sichuan. “He lives with his family at Tangke Village and earns a living by raising race horses. He also owns around 100 horses, 1,000 sheep and 800 yaks,” said Liu. “They live a rich life.”

    There were also those who were not doing so well, like Banma Luori, a headmaster of Shenzhen Futian Hope Primary School in Hongyuan County, Sichuan. Luori was deeply vexed. Like many other Hope schools in remote areas, Luori’s school was in a poor condition.

    Yet the local government did not support the maintenance, since they too were short of money and had other locally built schools to fund. Knowing the situation, Mo and his wife wrote a letter to Shenzhen city government after coming back, hoping for timely help for the school.

    “We just left the letter at Office for Letters and Visits from the Masses yesterday (the day before the interview),” said Mo.

    A poet, researcher and translator

    Mo admitted they were thinking about writing a book about the journey. Having co-written four books based on research on local history at Shenzhen Museum, he is familiar with the idea of writing. Mo even helped translate several English language novels. Elliot Roosevelt’s “Murder and First Lay” is one of them. “It was an amateur work,” Mo said.

    As an English major, he enrolled in Xianggan Normal College (now belonging to Hunan University of Science and Technology), Hunan in 1978, the second year after the national college entrance examination was resumed. Mo said his first choice for a major was history, which required a high score on the math exam. “It was just short of a few points,” Mo said.

    In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mo and Liu were sent to the countryside for reeducation. They were in Zhanxian County, Hainan, from 1968 to 1973. After the Cultural Revolution, they went back to Hunan, where Liu attended Hunan Normal University in 1985. In the late 1980s, Mo and Liu relocated to Shenzhen, along with their two daughters, and began their careers at Shenzhen Museum and Haitian Publishing House.

    With so many years of experience in editing work, it is no surprise to find that Mo wrote over 300 poems in ancient poetry forms during the journey. It is reminiscent of the image of Chinese poets, who would usually stroll composedly amid mountains and write down one or two lines of words that either rhymed or held metaphorical meanings. His poems are mainly about the red army, inspired from natural scenery and historical events.

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