Husband carries wife on tour of China

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With his wife on his back, Wang Xiaomin spent more than 12 hours visiting Huangshan Mountain, in eastern China's Anhui province, on July 22.

Wang Xiaomin carries his wife, Yu Yonghua, on his back at Huangshan Mountain in Anhui province. [Provided to China Daily]

It's how the couple, from Wuhu, Anhui, have visited dozens of scenic spots across the country since 2016, but it was the trip to Huangshan, which soars to a height of 1,864 meters, that touched netizens, thanks to videos posted online by other tourists.

Wang's 52-year-old wife, Yu Yonghua, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, a rare, incurable condition also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2014.

It's a progressive disease that attacks nerve cells that control muscles throughout the body, and Wang took his wife to hospitals in Anhui and Shanghai, where they were told Yu had only three to five years to live.

"Though we didn't believe it, we lived in despair from then to 2016, when we decided to move on to a new life," Wang said. "We didn't travel much before my wife fell ill. As we realized the disease was a fact we could not change, we finally decided to enjoy some final, happy time together by traveling."

Because he knew Yu's health would deteriorate, Wang made a vague plan to start their travels in the hardest places, so they went to the Tibet autonomous region and Qinghai province for a monthlong trip in 2016, when Yu weighed about 50 kilograms.

Since then, Wang has taken Yu to the Ningxia Hui and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous regions and Yunnan and Zhejiang provinces.

Wang showed dozens of photos he asked other tourists to take with his cellphone. Yu is smiling on Wang's back in most of them.

"People our age don't talk much about love, especially the affection between lovers," he said. "It's not for romance that I do all the things I do. All I know is she is my family and it's my responsibility to take good care of her."

He once carried his wife on his back for 16 kilometers, walking along an ancient mountain path in Anhui. Yu now only weighs around 30 kg and Wang has become used to carrying her.

To keep on the move is hard for the couple, not only physically, but also financially.

From the same township in Wuhu, they married in 1984 and welcomed their only son the next year. He now has a 6-year-old son of his own.

They worked in a State-owned cotton-processing factory until 2004, when the plant went bankrupt and they lost their jobs.

After that, the couple ran their own cotton-processing workshop, which also went bankrupt in a couple of years.

After that Wang worked as a taxi driver for a while and then ran a small logistics firm, which was not profitable and closed due to Yu's illness.

"At the beginning, after my wife was diagnosed with ALS, she could still take care of herself," Wang said. "But there's no way I can work now because she has lost the ability to take care of herself and is even unable to speak. Even mosquitoes and flies can bully her.

"I can only look into her eyes and guess what she wants."

Wang said he now accompanies his wife almost 24 hours a day.

Since 2014, the couple have exhausted all their savings and borrowed more than 200,000 yuan ($29,280) from relatives and friends, who have also given them some donations.

To save money in order to visit more places, they often spend the night in a tent.

"We discuss where to go for the next trip," Wang said. "I take out a map and point at some places. She nods if she wants to go to certain ones."

They have recently been planning a trip to Beijing, especially the Great Wall, but Yu's health condition doesn't permit any travel at the moment.

"If she feels better, we will go to Beijing as soon as possible," Wang said.

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