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Across China: A Chinese family's "nomadic life" in motorhome

作者:ihpa.net 发布时间:2018-02-11

XI'AN, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese family became stars on social media when they began making videos and live broadcasts of their travels in a motorhome two months ago.

Starting in Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Zhao Gang, Agarli and their 13-month-old daughter Jingel have visited 14 cities including Beijing and Xi'an.

To share their experiences, Zhao, 33, recorded the trip and broadcast it on the live streaming website Kuaishou.

He has made more than 50 live broadcasts and posted 397 videos, attracting over 160,000 fans, keen to express their envy for the family's nomadic life.

"But not everyone has the courage to leave their comfort zone," said Zhao.

Zhao owned a house and four clothing shops in Hohhot when, last year, Agarli nearly died giving birth to Jingel and it dawned on the couple that they needed to reevaluate what they wanted from life.

"We were always consumed by the business. But what's the point of all that work if we die tomorrow?" asked Agarli. "The world is so big, and we want to explore it."

So the couple sold their shops in July and spent 150,000 yuan (around 23,000 U.S. dollars) on a second-hand motorhome, simplifying their lives in preparation to travel around China and beyond.

From the outset, Zhao had trouble finding any information on touring China with a family by camper, so they did not map out a route. Instead, they plan as they go, based on the weather and the needs of their baby girl.

"For example, we will move to warmer southern regions in autumn and winter," Zhao said.

Throughout the trip, Zhao's family have cooked, bathed and slept inside their "moving castle" and they love their lifestyle.

"Home is where you park it," said Zhao, which is not always as easy as it sounds.

Although China has more than 500 vehicle campgrounds, there is still a long way to go before it reaches its target of 2,000 by 2020. To date, China has around 45,000 RVs and the figure will grow as more people opt for road travel in the country.

Many Chinese know of motorhomes, or recreational vehicles (RV), from a 1998 movie "Be There or Be Square" but RV sales have been slow due to high costs and lack of campgrounds.

Many fans worry about the family's safety, suggesting that Zhao stop his motorhome in places with surveillance cameras. But he found these places were often far from amenities and with no facilities for him to resupply his vehicle with water and electricity, so the family prefer to stay in more populous communities.

"I've learned how to tell where is quiet and safe," said Zhao.

Travelling in a camper allows the family to take in spectacular views and meet lots of interesting people along the way, but travel is costly. Without the internet, they may never have been able to become modern day nomads.

In one live broadcast, viewers found out that the family needed a rolling pin to make dumplings, and shortly after someone nearby sent one to them.

The trip costs the family around 10,000 yuan per month. Zhao has worked with people in rural Shaanxi Province and advertises their specialties such as winter jujube and pomegranate on his live shows. The family made almost 7,000 yuan by selling boxes of those local delicacies online and earn around 3,000 yuan a month from live broadcasting.

"In this way, we make ends meet each month," said Zhao.

They have just visited the Terracotta Army in Xi'an and will soon move on to the southwestern provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan, before visiting Hong Kong and Macao.

"After that, I wish to take my wife and daughter to see the Northern lights in Norway, pyramids in Egypt, and experience safaris across Africa," Zhao said.

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