It was late November 1998. Lei was approaching Shan Hai Guan after entering Hebei Province. From there, he went to Qin Huang Dao city and stamped his documents. To save time, Lei bought a couple of pancakes and continued walking. As he walked, the pancakes turned cold and hard. Then, a cyclist approached him. It was an elderly lady and seeing his haggard appearance and the words “walking throughout China” emblazoned on his backpack, she invited him to her home for dinner. Lei declined.
“How long do you think it will take?” she asked.
“I estimated 10 years.” Lei replied.
“Are you alone? Do you have anybody providing food and support?” she asked.
“I’m all alone and I have no sponsors.”
They soon parted ways, but as Lei was approaching a post office, the lady reappeared on her bicycle.
“I’m really touched by passion and determination, but I can’t bear to see you suffer. I must help you in any way I can.” she said.
“I’m happy to have your moral support.” Lei said and went into the post office to collect his mail. (China was not as well “wired” back then)
As Lei left the post office, he saw the old lady at the entrance, holding a plastic bag.
“I see you have a camera, so I bought some films for you.” she said (digital cameras were not as common back then)
Lei refused the gift and found a fight on his hands. The commotion alerted the folks at the post office. They found out what was going on and not only urged Lei to accept the lady’s gift, they presented him with their gift of 20 stamps.
The lady offered to send Lei off. As they chatted, he found out that she was a retired bank employee. She kept reminding him to eat well, rest well and be safe – just like a mother. When he turned back to look at her after she had stopped following him, he saw her wiping tears from her face. Lei was touched beyond words. They were little more than strangers and she showed so much compassion for his struggle to achieve his ambition. Lei felt that kindness is an invisible virtue. This old lady’s kindness not only touched him, it spurred him on and gave him even greater determination to complete his monumental task.