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Chinese couple packs up to sail around the world

By Pang Li (

09:29, October 15, 2012

Zhai Feng(Photo from Qi Lu Evening News)

A Chinese couple from Yanzhou, Shandong Province, has resigned their jobs, sold their house and had their eight-year-old daughter's education put on hold in order to sail around the world, a dream that they have had for a very long time, the Qi Lu Evening News reported.

Zhai Feng, 35 and his wife, Hong Yan were railway workers. Both travel enthusiasts, they spent almost all their savings embarking on long trips over the last ten years. Driving thousands of miles to Thailand and riding motorbikes to Nepal were among their adventures. But their biggest dream has been to undertake a full-on global journey.

In 2009, Zhai Feng visited a photo exhibition by Zhai Mo, said to be the first Chinese to travel the globe by boat, and he was greatly inspired. "I realized that a person with limited means too can afford to go around the world," he said, "Afterwards, I gathered information online, read a lot of information about marine piloting and leant that many people from different countries had fulfilled their sailing dreams."

Naturally, Zhai came up with the idea of sailing around the world. His travel loving wife agreed and gave it her full support.

But how could they acquire the necessary sailing skills and the money for the journey? Over more than one year, they raked their brains for a solution. "We thought of giving up, but in the end couldn't bear to let go of the dream," Zhai said.

In September of this year, Zhai surprised everybody by quitting his job. He began to spend all his time searching for sailing techniques on the Internet. After discussing it with his wife, he sold his big apartment and private car for a total of 400,000 yuan (US$63,743). Afterwards, they bought a secondhand sailboat for around 300,000 yuan (US$47,800) through an international sailboat trading platform.

Zhai said that he is set to fly to Langkawi, Malaysia on October 9 to pick up his boat, and would spend half a year there to learn navigation and obtain all the required sailing documents. He is scheduled to sail back to Shandong next March and pick up his wife and daughter at long last to launch their global adventure.

Zhai said: "Living in this small city and leading a banal and unpromising existence, we feel reality is like a black hole... We are used to the feeling of traveling, of reaching a strange place and then trying to adjust to it. We truly get to experience the beauty of the different sceneries and get a feeling of how wide the road of life actually is."

His wife Hong said that she and her husband were increasingly longing for a simple life that would enable them to fulfill their colorful dreams.

Zhai admitted that their families were dead against the couple's traveling plans. His younger brother, Zhai Lei simply dismissed their plan as being "crazy," but failed to change their minds in spite of his several lobbying attempts. Hong said that her father refused to see her for quite a long time after the couple refused to budge.

But Zhai's friend, Wang Baogang, expressed his respect and understanding for the couple's decision. Wang said that Zhai is a very courageous man and is doing something that not many people would dare to even try. "It takes courage to make such a decision and I am expecting good news from him," Wang said.

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