Pop bottle raft arrives at the Expo ... almost

08:34, October 12, 2010      

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Xia Yu (right) rows his raft made of plastic bottles near Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Sept 13. [Photo provided to China Daily]

After a trip of 1,500 kilometers on a raft made of plastic bottles, Xia Yu finally arrived in Shanghai on Oct 4 - but he was not able to fulfill his dream of sailing into the Expo 2010 Shanghai.

As soon as he arrived in Shanghai, Xia applied for approval to enter the Expo Garden via the water gate along the Huangpu River.

However, maritime management authorities said the raft was too slow to sail safely in the Huangpu River, and turned down his request. Xia then decided to anchor his raft at a dock in suburban Shanghai and instead took a subway to visit the Expo Garden on Saturday.

"I've been sailing for 156 days to see the Expo Garden," said Xia. "The journey has been much more turbulent than I had expected before I launched the raft."

The 36-year-old pub owner from Xiangtan of Central China's Hunan province built his 7-meter-long 2-meter-wide raft out of 2,010 plastic bottles collected at his pub and attached to a wooden frame.

The unusual mode of transportation has been widely debated in online forums, with many applauding his perseverance, while others suggest he is playing himself up and is not engaged in honest work.

"I just want to promote a lifestyle with a low-carbon footprint and raise awareness to protect the water environment, just like the Shanghai Expo advocates," Xia said. "It's not really all about myself - it's about an environmentally friendly lifestyle."

For the first couple of weeks, Xia sailed with friends, but he completed the trip by himself when the friends returned to work.

Xia stayed at hostels in towns and farmhouses in villages where he could buy food and drinking water. One time his breakfast was a single piece of ham. When he could not find a bed, he slept in a tent.

On his way he often had to fight whirlpools, rapids and tides that made sailing impossible.

"I sometimes tied my raft to bigger ships," Xia said. "Otherwise my raft would have lost control."

When the raft was wrecked in Chizhou, East China's Anhui province, halfway to Shanghai, Xia did not give up. He left the raft in Chizhou and returned home to Hunan for a break, then continued his journey after he repaired his raft.

Despite all the dangers and difficulties, Xia said the trip was worthwhile because he did something "beyond imagination".

"Before I started, no one believed I could make it," Xia said. "Now here I am. But it's the cause that matters most."

Source: China Daily(By Wu Yiyao)

(Editor:王寒露)

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