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Central heating in Beijing wows China’s ‘ice flower boy’

Wang Fuman said he was impressed by the availability of heating in the capital and the milder-than-home temperature. Source: Shutterstock

The Chinese boy who became an overnight star after a photo of his frost-covered head went viral on social media was given a chance to enjoy the more moderate weather in Beijing during a three-day visit to the capital.

The photo of 8-year-old Wang Fuman, whose hair became covered in thick frost after walking some 4km in freezing temperatures to attend school, had spurred a deluge of donations from well-wishers from all across the mainland last week. Over the weekend, the poverty-stricken boy was given an all-expense paid trip to Beijing.

Wang’s photo spread like wildfire on popular social network WeChat. Source: NetEase

The image, which revealed the story of the poverty-stricken third-grader who lived with his older sister and ailing grandmother, reached millions across the country, moving a great number of them to raise some CNY100,000 (US$15,354) for his school.

On Saturday, the boy his older sister Wang Fumei, 10, and his father Wang Gangkui began their tour around Beijing, which was partly sponsored by a Communist Party propaganda website, according to the South China Morning Post.

Throughout the three-hour flight from the Yunnan province where he lives, Wang Fuman spent most of the time looking out the window. This was his first time on board a flight.

“I have never left home before, this is my first long journey.”

Fuman also said he was impressed by the availability of heating in the capital and the milder-than-home temperature.

“It’s very cold at home, but very warm in Beijing. At home, we have to burn charcoal at night for warmth. In Beijing, the rooms are so warm – I only need to wear one layer of clothing. This is the first time I’ve come across heating, it really is a miracle,” he said.

“I want to see how children in Beijing go to school, and whether they need to walk a long way every day.”

The viral photo of Fuman who came to be known as the “ice flower boy” or “ice boy”, was taken after his hour-long walk from his home to school in sub-zero temperatures in rural Ludian county. The photo spread like wildfire on popular social network WeChat.

His single father, who works in a bigger city to support the family, has also been offered a job so that he can be closer to his children.

Fuman’s story highlighted the plight of millions of China’s “left-behind” children, the sons and daughters of parents forced to work in other cities, leaving them in poor villages in order to earn a living.

This article first appeared in our sister publication Asian Correspondent

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