Unexpected heavy snowfalls that hit central and eastern parts of China this past winter paralysed a large part of the mainland's transport network. To veteran outbound tour escort Danny Li Yu-chung, it was a memorable challenge. The snowflakes falling outside his bus on the way from Zhangjiajie to Shenzhen on January 25 did not worry Danny Li Yu-chung. He saw it as just another day and reckoned he would be able to have his 33 Hong Kong tourists back home in several hours. It had not entered his mind that the bus could be stranded for more than 30 hours in Hunan . 'It was shocking,' the 36-year-old recounts of the end of the six-day coach tour to Zhangjiajie, organised by SIG Holidays. 'I had never expected such bad weather. It was getting dark. Soon I got off the coach. I saw a farmhouse nearby, so I went in and asked if we could use their toilet.' The family charged 10 yuan (HK$11.17) for tour members to use the bathroom. 'I also bought cup noodles from them and asked them to bring boiled water and noodles onto the coach to see if anyone wanted them. 'When our coach still did not move an inch by 9pm that night, I realised we were going to stay there overnight. It was snowing all night long. I thought it was about minus 4 degrees outside and minus 2 degrees on the coach. I asked the farmhouse owners to keep the door open that night so we could go in to use their toilet and have cup noodles when necessary. They also burned coal at home to keep us warm.' But it was a rough night. 'I didn't sleep well that night. I was in a jump seat so I had to stand up and fold the seat every time someone wanted to go out. I also escorted them along the way.' The next morning he called the police and talked to drivers about traffic in the area. 'We had to decide whether to keep waiting or head back. I believed we could not stand staying there another night, so I decided to head back to Changsha , from where we could return to Hong Kong by train or plane.' At about noon on January 26, they made a U-turn and arrived in Changsha at 6pm, from where the group eventually made its way home. 'It was the hardest and most memorable trip ever in my career.' His efforts paid off as he was highly praised. When the group flew back to Hong Kong on January 31, many members told the media they were impressed by Mr Li's calmness and leadership. Mr Li has received no formal training on tour escorting. After finishing Form Five in 1989, he studied basic cookery for one year then worked at hotels making pastry. 'I switched jobs often. I just worked six to nine months at each hotel. I am keen to learn new things. After I learned everything I wanted to know at one hotel, I changed to another.' When he was 23 he applied to become an outbound tour escort after reading a job advertisement in a newspaper. 'The pay was attractive and I could travel to many different places.' In 1995 he led his first tour, to Xinhui , Taishan and Jiangmen in Guangdong, for three days. 'Only eight tourists were on the trip, but I was so nervous. On the coach to Xinhui I just introduced myself, the local tour guide, the driver and the basic itinerary in three to four minutes and then immediately passed the mic to the tour guide. I did not say anything else in public for the rest of the trip.' But with more experience he is now confident. 'I read a lot about many mainland and Southeast Asian cities. In the past, I used to read guidebooks. But in recent years I often surf up-to-date information online and ask regular travellers. I can't be sure the local tour guide will be well prepared. If he doesn't speak Cantonese, I may have to translate ... I also check tour members' birthdays and sing them birthday songs on their birthdays.' Over the years, he has left his footprints in many mainland and Southeast Asian places. Hainan , Qingdao , Dalian and Thailand are the places he likes most. 'I crave sunshine and golden beaches. People feel great on sunny days. I feel comfortable when my clients are relaxed.' But when it comes to Mr Li's holidays, he prefers to spend them with his family in Hong Kong.