Planet China

On the road

The road trip is a staple of US literature (think Jack Kerouac) and films (think, less cerebrally, of National Lampoon’s Vacation with Chevy Chase). But such a long distance American journey has rarely been attempted by two Chinese pensioners without a word of English between them. The duo made front page news in the China Daily this week for their “19-day adventure” through the US, in which they slept in their rented car and ate meals cooked in a portable rice cooker. The husband and wife spent $1,500 on the trip with 64 year-old Chen Aiwu, a former bus driver, taking the wheel. A native of Wuhan, she told the newspaper that the couple had used a portable GPS and Baidu Translate to find their way to their various destinations. “We’re not afraid. We’re just as adventurous as Westerners,” she explained. Her 66 year-old husband said the experience wasn’t without its linguistic challenges, however: “We couldn’t understand them, they couldn’t understand us. So we had to use hand signals, but this worked out just fine.”

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