'Running Naked Boy', now 6, crosses Lop Nur desert

Updated: 2014-11-13 08:27

By Cang Wei in Wuxi, Jiangsu province(China Daily)

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Six-year-old He Yide, who was recognized by Guinness World Records in 2013 as the youngest person in the world to pilot a plane, is in the news again after traversing the dangerous Lop Nur desert with 13 other people.

The boy, nicknamed Duoduo, has been known to Chinese people as the "Running Naked Boy" since February 2012, when an online video clip uploaded by his father showed the boy crying while running almost naked in New York in subzero temperature.

The boy's father, He Liesheng, a successful businessman in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, said a lot of preparation was made before the desert trek, which was done on foot and by vehicle.

"We didn't risk our children's lives," He said. "But we think that not having adventures in life is the most dangerous thing."

Together with three other families, who were chosen by He from hundreds of applicants, Duoduo and his father entered Lop Nur, known to Chinese as "the Sea of the Dead", to start the 20-day journey in mid-October.

In preparation for the 3,000-kilometer journey, during which the four children were asked to walk at least 100 kilometers, the team hired five guides to ensure their safety. Duoduo's father also took a large amount of instant food, sand-proof glasses and nearly 100 kinds of medicine.

The businessman said that during the journey, the children learned lots of knowledge that could not be acquired at school, including how to tell directions, scare away wild animals at night and find water in the desert.

"We needed to find dry wood to light a fire every night," Duoduo said. "I learned that wolves are afraid of light, fire and the smell of gunpowder. We successfully scared away three wolves by using our flashlights.

"We also visited the monument of Peng Jiamu and left bottled water for people in need."

In the 1980s, Peng Jiamu, a Chinese biochemist and explorer, disappeared in the Lop Nur.

To encourage Duoduo to continue with the adventure, each time he finished walking 5 kilometers, his father let the boy lie down and massaged his body.

He denied that traversing Lop Nur was for publicity purposes, saying that the only aim of the adventure was to train the children to become more courageous.

The 45-year-old He's unconventional education methods have stirred public debate since 2012.

In August 2012, Duoduo sailed a yacht solo in Qingdao, Shandong province. Later in September, he climbed Mount Fuji in Japan in a time of 15 hours on a rainy day.

In August 2013, he made a 35-minute flight across Beijing Wildlife Park in an ultralight aircraft, thus becoming the Guinness world recorder holder for the youngest person to pilot a plane.

Lian Hongning, a resident of Nanjing, said dangerous training may harm a child's physical and psychological health rather than "making them more courageous".