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Chasing his dream, step by step

By Xu Wei (China Daily)

10:32, July 26, 2012

Jin Shiming, 60, who has hiked more than 80,000 km across the country over the past seven years, explores Chongqing municipality in June.

A former coal miner who has been hiking across China since he retired in 2005 has further travel plans. Xu Wei learns more in Chongqing.

Since Jin Shiming retired from his job in 2005 working down a coal mine, he has been hiking across the country. The 60-year-old from Fukang city, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has traveled to 1,947 counties, districts and county-level cities and hiked more than 80,000 km, as of July this year. "It has been, so far, the most meaningful part of my life," Jin says. "I have managed to travel to the northern and southern frontiers of the country, to numerous rivers and mountains."

Jin was motivated to walk across the country after hearing about a French marathon runner who ran from Paris to China in the 1980s.

"I was thinking if he could do that, I could possibly do something similar someday."

He was also inspired by Yu Chunshun, the explorer and travel writer who hiked to 23 provinces in the 1980s and 1990s.

Yu died in Lop Nur in Xinjiang in 1996 and Jin says: "It is a great pity that I cannot produce good travel writing like he did. But still, I want to continue in his footsteps."

Meanwhile, his love for sports and years of exercise have kept him healthy and he is able to walk long distances.

Jin was born in Baoji, Shaanxi province, to a doctor's family in 1952 and as a boy, dreamed of becoming an athlete.

However, he was forced to give up his dream when both his parents died during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), and he left his hometown for Xinjiang when he was 17 to work at a coal mine.

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