PETALING JAYA: A journey from Asia mainland's southern tip to the northern tip has become an art and charity pilgrimage for Chinese brush painter Shen Yun Fei.
The 46-year-old from Louyang, China, embarked on his dream of becoming a travelling artist last year and arrived in Tanjung Piai in Johor – the southern tip of the Asia mainland.
From there, he plans to set out on a four-wheel-drive through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Nepal before re-entering China to head for Heilongjiang, a province bordering Russia.
Along the way, Shen - who is known for painting the mutan (peony), known as the ‘king of flowers’ in China - would hold art exhibitions to promote his Chinese art form .
To add meaning to the journey, Shen decided to use his skill for a larger mission - to publicise the 2008 Olympic Games, which will be held in China, and for charity purposes.
“I want to inject more purpose in my personal search for artistic fulfilment. Perhaps, this is my way of delivering my social responsibility,'' he said during a stop in Kuala Lumpur.
In the last few months, Shen - who graduated from Luoyang Shi Fan University and the Nan King Research Art Academy - has held exhibitions to raise funds for the Southern College and the Skudai Welfare Home in Johor.
He has also helped raised funds for SJK(C) Chee Wen in Subang Jaya and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar).
While contributing to the welfare of others, Shen travels with limited resources for himself, cutting cost by camping in the open.
“Sometimes, I survive on the goodwill of the locals, who put me up in their homes and shower me with hospitality.
“My worst experience so far was camping near a seaside village near Kuantan.
“In the middle of the night, my tent was flooded by heavy downpour and invaded by wild boars but luckily, my travelling companion - a dog given by a friend - saved the day,” he recalled.
On the road with a RM30,000 second-hand jeep, Shen had progressed slower than expected as he struggled with depleting financial resources while his friends back home in China try to source for sponsorships.
“I know I will not be able to complete this journey without sponsorships but I cannot wait until I have gathered enough fund to set off.
“I will have to embark on the journey first to prove my determination.
“I need to convince potential sponsors of my sincerity through action,” he said, adding he estimated the trip would take about five years and he would be home in time for the opening of the Games.