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12 Chinese Youths Sell Property to Travel the World

They only make them this big in the U.S.

“Two camper vans, a couple of post-80′s (or near-80′s) kids, over 60 countries, 200,000 kilometers. Departure: 2012 May.  If you understand, then, go……”{{1}}[[1]]两辆房车,几个80后,六十多个国家,十二万公里,2012年5月出发,如果你会懂,那么,走吧……[[1]]

With these words, the group No Turning Back introduces itself to netizens on Sina Weibo, a popular microblogging platform in China. The group of 12 young travelers sold property including cars and flats to raise over 8 million RMB (about US$1.2 million) in funds for the adventure of a lifetime.  

The group’s founder, Chen Hanbin, sums up the motivation for the trip in an interview with the Qianjiang Evening News featured on Sina: “If you have a dream, you have to realize it while you’re young. So you’ll have no regrets!”  

Around the world we go....

Chen started preparing for the trip two years ago. Since then, he and his wife have sold all their worldly possessions, including their car and flat, and bought two camper vans in the U.S. for over 800,000 RMB (about US$127,000). Everything on the campers is in English, from the names of the 60-odd countries on the itinerary down to the U.S. license plates, except for the words No Turning Back emblazoned in Chinese characters.

There are two couples in the group, including a university professor who’s the oldest of the group (having been born in good ol’ 1971), with the rest all post-80′s friends from university.  Adam, the youngest of the group at only 16 years of age, is from France. They all work or teach in media/art related fields.  

So what do Chinese netizens think of this group? It’s a decidedly mixed bag. 

Live your dream

The group certainly has its fervent boosters, with most netizens tweeting their support. @Mucle tweets, “I feel this really sums up the meaning of life. If I could, I would want to join, but sadly I don’t have the money…I hope in this life I will have the chance [to do this].” {{2}}[[2]]我觉得这才是很好的诠释什么叫做生命?如果可以,我都想参加,可惜的是没钱啊……希望今生能有机会嘛[[2]]

@傻貓要畢業, whose handle means Dumb Cat Wants to Graduate, reflects on the love-hate relationship many Chinese youth have with owning a flat (a dream increasingly out of reach for many): “I really want to as well…after all a flat is something you don’t bring with you into or out of this world, it’s fine just to rent. The experience of travel is like a warm current that always stays with you in your heart forever.” {{3}}[[3]]我也好想。。。房子这种生不带来死不带去的东西,租租就好,旅行的经历才是永远环绕内心的那股暖流。[[3]]

@不銹 agrees, and makes a threat against his flat: “When I see the dozen youngsters sell their flats and cars to travel the world, and then I look at my humble little flat, I swear in my heart: Just you wait, wait until I pay off my mortgage then I’m selling you.” {{4}}[[4]]看到十几个年轻人卖房卖车去环游世界,再看看我的小屋,一发狠心,你等着,等我还完房贷也把你卖了。[[4]]

The group’s mission strikes a chord with @-鹰的翅膀-, who tweets, ”We are too used to living for others, I long for this type of crazy passion and tenacity!” {{5}}[[5]]我们太习惯为了别人活着, 憧憬这样的疯狂和执着![[5]]

@风无形QQ admires the group’s courage but has to face reality, tweeting somewhat wistfully, “If I were single, I would certainly have this type of courage. But the reality [for me] is I’m a husband and a father and can’t really do what they did!” {{6}}[[6]]如果我是单身,我肯定有这样的勇气。可现实却是为人夫、为人父,实在不能这样干![[6]]

Don’t waste your parents’ money

Hope everyone gets along; it's gonna be a long trip

Many netizens focused on an important distinction: did these folks buy their own flats or was it their parents’ money? With the high housing prices in Chinese cities, many young people in China these days have to rely on their parents to foot the down payment on a place of their own.  

@不loli的lolita tweets, “If they bought their own place and their own car with money that they had earned themselves, then I admire their courage and decisiveness. I feel this is really living.  But if they sold the cars and flats that their parents had bought for them, with money their parents gave them for settling down, then their behavior will hurt their parents’ feelings and is not so admirable…” {{7}}[[7]]如果他们当初买房买车时,用的是自己赚的钱,那我很佩服他们的勇气与魄力,而且,我觉得这才是生活~如果他们用的是父母给他们买房买车,让他们好好安定下来的钱,那他们的行为,会伤害到父母的心,而且,就不是那么的理所当然了。。。[[7]]

@KAKA不被找到 agrees with the sentiment that it’s more important to put parents’ interests first, tweeting: “If you have money to take care of your parents and use the leftover money to pursue your dream, then that’s fine and I’m all for it. But if you selfishly sell the family home and hurt your parents’ feelings then that’s another matter.” {{8}}[[8]]有钱的时候孝顺父母之余还能完成梦想,还是不错的,比较赞成的。但是如果说自私的把家里房子卖掉,不顾父母的感受,那就另当别论了。[[8]]

@2012善待自己吧 wonders what happens after the trip is over: “Dreams and reality have a certain distance between them. Although they sold their flats and their cars, when they come back from their world travels don’t they still need a place to live, a car to drive? I think they sold only what they did not need [implying they have other places to live]. If after their return they have no place to live then would they still go?” {{9}}[[9]]梦想和现实是有距离的,虽然他们卖了房,卖了车,但是他们环游了世界回来,应该依然有房住,有车开的主。卖掉的,只是多余的而已。如果回来后,连住的地方都没有了,还会去吗?[[9]]

Young, wild and free

Most of us have to face reality

Many netizen did the math on the cost of the trip and came up short. @无用书生老闫 sums it up: “Keyword #1: Must have savings; Keyword #2: House, Car; Keyword #3: over 8 million RMB. Losers need not apply.” {{10}}[[10]]关键词之一:有一定积蓄;关键词之二:房、车;关键词之三:800多万元人民币。屌丝们可以一边玩去了。[[10]]

@信风- agrees, tweeting plaintively: “What about the majority of common people? What house do they have to sell? What car? And how much money could they get?” {{11}}[[11]]多数老百姓呢?卖什么房子?卖什么车呢?又能卖多少钱呢[[11]]

@长春小YU牙歪歪 belongs to this majority, but she has her eyes set on more modest ambitions: “For now I am OK with just travelling around China. I don’t have savings or a house or a car to sell. What I CAN do is to work and make money and go to at least one new place every year. This is my dream for now.” {{12}}[[12]]我暂时能环游中国就可以,但是我没有积蓄,没房没车可卖。我能做的,就是工作赚钱,起码一年去一个陌生的地方,这就是我目前的梦想。[[12]]

@Sabrina言午 proposes an achievable plan to her friends @跟我去HELL, @VTM_菲菲 and @See-My-Side: “Wait until we are old and we will join an elderly travel group together.”  {{13}}[[13]]等我们老了一起报老年旅行社哦[[13]]

What does Chen, the group’s leader, think of all the netizen feedback? He insists, characteristically, that there is no turning back: “There is no road you can re-travel in this life. Every day we walk on all kinds of different roads, facing all of life’s choices. I’m someone who does not like regret. Perhaps our trip will have a bad ending, but no matter if it’s happiness or pain it’s all a type of life experience. With the choices of life there is no turning back.” {{14}}[[14]] 陈翰宾:世上没有可以回头的路。我们每天都行走在各种各样的路上,面临着人生的选择。我是不喜欢后悔的人,可能我们的这次旅行会有不好的结果,但不论是快乐还是痛苦都是人生的一种经历。人生的选择是无法回头的[[14]]

Good looking group

 Pictures courtesy of Sina

7 Comments
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  • http://mouseneb.livejournal.com/ wallaby78

    What’s the Chinese for “No turning back?” I can just almost read it on their shirts…

  • http://mouseneb.livejournal.com/ wallaby78

    What’s the Chinese for “No turning back?” I can just almost read it on their shirts…

  • Pingback: Today’s China Readings June 1, 2012 | Sinocism

  • tealeafnation

    The Chinese for ‘No Turning Back’ is 不可掉头.  You can see it a bit more clearly on the camper and on the flag in the group shot. Thanks for reading, wallaby78!

    • http://mouseneb.livejournal.com/ wallaby78

      Ah, that makes sense. Thank you!

  • tealeafnation

    The Chinese for ‘No Turning Back’ is 不可掉头.  You can see it a bit more clearly on the camper and on the flag in the group shot. Thanks for reading, wallaby78!

    • http://mouseneb.livejournal.com/ wallaby78

      Ah, that makes sense. Thank you!