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China: Around The Nation

China’s Bear Grylls Junior? Runaway boy, 10, survives on snake and berries for 24 days

Fearless youngster buys and sells scrap, and brews his own health tonics during month-long road trip

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 July, 2017, 2:13pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 July, 2017, 5:06pm

An intrepid 10-year-old boy from southern China who survived on barbecued snake and wild berries for almost a month after running away from home has been reunited with his family, mainland media reported.

The youngster, identified only as Miao, left his home in Xuanwei, Guizhou province, on June 29 after being given a beating by his father, news portal Yunnan.cn reported on Saturday.

He said his plan was to get as far away from his parents as possible, so he set off for the megacity of Chongqing, a distance of more than 800km, with no money but bags of determination.

Over the next 24 days he covered about 100km and the survival skills he demonstrated along the way would not have been out of place on a Bear Grylls adventure programme.

After a bumpy start – Miao said he spent his first night alone “on a pile of wet leaves” and didn’t eat for over 24 hours – he soon began to acclimatise to life on the road.

On one occasion, he managed to catch a snake, which he barbecued and ate, the report said. Other times he dined on fried fish he caught from the river using nothing but a sharp eye and a plastic water bottle.

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He was able to make fire after finding a lighter, and cooked using a metal bowl he picked up on a building site and implements he fashioned from scrap, the report said.

“This boy could host Man Vs Wild!” a person named Zhanting Fa Tanmu wrote on social media, referencing the TV show hosted by English adventurer Grylls.

When he could, Miao said he collected empty bottles and cartons and sold them on. The first eight yuan (US$1.20) he made was spent on steamed buns and an ice lolly, the report said.

On one occasion he found a mobile phone, which he managed to resell for two yuan, and on another was lucky enough to find 30 yuan in cash, which paid for food, a notebook and pen. He bought the notebook so he could keep a record of his adventure, he was quoted as saying.

Miao said that he was occasionally offered a helping hand by the people he met along the way, but was reluctant to accept.

“There were people who offered me a meal, but I was too embarrassed to go [into their homes] because my clothes were so dirty,” he said.

And even on the toughest of days, the child never lost of his sense of right and wrong.

“I wouldn’t steal or rob,” he said.

As well as his strong moral compass, Miao wasn’t short on ingenuity when it came to finding safe places to sleep either.

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He said he spent several nights sleeping in hay barns – remembering always to sneak away early in the morning to avoid being caught by the farmer – and another time spent a night in an abandoned truck.

“I slept really well without being scared,” he was quoted as saying.

Life wasn’t always comfortable, however. On one occasion Miao got diarrhoea after eating wild fruit, and another time he was struck down with a fever after getting soaked in the rain, the report said.

On both occasions he self-medicated with a panacea he concocted from boiling water and assorted berries, using knowledge he’d “picked up” living in the country, he said.

Miao’s epic journey ended on July 23 when he was picked up by police officers in Zhaotong, Yunnan province, who had spotted the dishevelled child and became concerned, the report said.

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After listening to his story, the officers took Miao to the local police station and gave him a hot drink and something to eat.

Police then contacted the boy’s parents who came to pick him up. His father promised not to beat his son anymore, and Miao pledged never again to run away.