by Xinhua writers Zheng Jianghua, Pan Geping
BRUSSELS, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Lu Junjie, a Chinese globetrotting cyclist, was despondent when his cherished "companion" -- a red touring bike -- was stolen at Brussels's Midi metro station. The bummer turned out to be an unforgettable chapter of this adventure.
The 30-year-old cyclist embarked on his tour from the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai in April 2017, crossing 15 countries, including 10 European ones before he arrived in Belgium on Nov. 15.
He would have hit the road to Paris to wrap up his 15,000-km tour which has lasted for nearly 20 months should his bike not be stolen the next day.
"I locked the bike, but didn't fasten it to the rail," he told Xinhua Wednesday in front of Midi metro station, pointing to a row of bicycles chained up to rails.
What the lost bike means to the solo globetrotting cyclist is far beyond its price -- 3,000 yuan (433 U.S. dollars). "For me, it is not just a bike. It was my companion which accompanied me for 20 months. We have experienced many ups and downs along the way," he stressed.
With a glimmer of hope to retrieve his bike, Lu reported the case to the police right after the incident, but their tepid response doused his hope.
In the following days, the cyclist made every endeavor to look for his bike. He posted his unhappy story on his Facebook page, hoping to get clues about the bike while inadvertently drawing some Belgian media's attention.
He also recounted the story through Wechat, a Chinese messaging app, among Chinese communities in Brussels.
"Many local friends apologize to me as they felt embarrassed that this happened in their country," he said. "I once thought the public order in developed countries would be better, but it's not true. Having been to so many countries, I find that the public order in China, especially in large cities, is quite good."
"Theft, robbery and the like are happening everywhere in the world, but it is abnormal for a developed country to have such a high crime rate," he added.
Feeling disappointed, Lu launched a crowd-funding campaign Tuesday on his Facebook page and among Wechat groups, aiming to raise funds to buy a new touring bike so as to continue his tour to Paris.
He set 1 euro (1.14 dollars) as the upper limit of donation on Facebook and 10 yuan (1.4 dollars) on Wechat.
"There are a lot of people willing to offer help. For example, some would sponsor me a bicycle. I feel that if I choose someone's help, I will hurt the hearts of others, thus I will lose something," Lu said.
"Through crowd-funding, all those who would like to help me could take part in," he added, explaining why he launched the fundraising.
As his visa is due to expire on Monday, Lu could not wait for the result of the fundraising. The cyclist borrowed money from his family and bought a new touring bike which cost 1,400 euros (1,594.25 dollars). He planned to repay the money in the future.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Lu received about 4,000 yuan (577.43 dollars) through Wechat groups from about 400 overseas Chinese in Belgium. In comparison, the fund raised on Facebook is nominal, he said.
As donations poured in and some malicious comments emerged, Lu decided to stop the fundraising.
"The amount is beyond my imagination. There are so many Chinese friends caring for me," he said. "I'm in deep gratitude."
"Although I first asked for money from my family, I still think that everyone (donors collectively) bought this bike for me. It's a gift from everyone."
Lu will hit the road for Paris on Thursday with his new bike. Then he will jet off to Shanghai on Monday, the day when his visa expires.
"Maybe someday I will embark on another globetrotting tour starting from Paris after I save up some more money, but that will be another story," he said.