It was the first time Zhang You had left the country. But unlike most others who take to the skies to travel, study or work abroad, Zhang went to beg.
Two years ago, the 76-year-old man from a remote village in China's central Henan Province joined a one-month tour group to Malaysia. However, he told the Global Times that throughout this "tour," he earned more than 3,000 yuan ($483) by begging in Kuala Lumpur.
Odd job interview
"It all began with a conversation with a strange man I met in my village several years ago. He never told me his name or where he was from. But he told me he could offer me a free trip to go abroad and earn some money," Zhang explained.
The stranger told Zhang that he didn't need to pay any fees and would be provided with free food and lodging for a month in Malaysia. The only condition was that Zhang spend all his time there begging.
Zhang realized this was actually a recruitment program and was told these free trips could happen in a number of foreign countries. In need of money in his old age, Zhang signed up.
"I can't do farm work anymore since I am too old. And after my two sons got married and moved away for work, I had little income to support myself," Zhang said.
Zhang spent 330 yuan applying for his first passport at the local police bureau and was ready to go.
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