WUHAN - A Japanese man cycling around the world had a longer-than-expected stop in Central China when his bike was stolen.
"My bicycle is my sweet, my girlfriend and my best friend. I really want to get it back," said Keiichiro Kawahara, 28, during a TV interview.
To his surprise, the story quickly spread after he launched a request for help at the popular micro blog site Sina Weibo.
More than 100,000 netizens forwarded his message in three days, and Kawahara and his bicycle became hot keywords.
Thanks to the public's effort, the bike was found at 11 pm on Monday.
Kawahara, from Nagano, quit his nurse job and started traveling around the world in October. His first overseas stop was in Shanghai in November and he arrived in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei province, on Feb 3.
He told China Daily that on Feb 17, he found his bike stolen when he was wandering with two friends in Hanjie Street, a pedestrian-only street.
The bike was not allowed on the street, so Kawahara parked it in a toll area following a toll collector's instruction.
"Because my bicycle does not have a kick stand, I leaned the bike against the wall at the parking area."
Kawahara said the toll collector told him he must return to fetch the bike before 8 pm.
However, when Kawahara came back at 8:30 pm, his bicycle was gone. Kawahara's friend in China called the police immediately. The police approached the toll collector, but he insisted he did not know what happened.
"I was angry with the collector, for he did not care about my bike at all." Kawahara said the man couldn't recall anything about the bike, which left him without a clue.
Kawahara said he was very sad and tired after the bike was missing.
"We finally found it through a clue provided by a micro-blogger who was a cycling fan," a police officer surnamed He told China Daily.
According to He, the 17,000-yuan ($2,700) high-end bicycle vanished from a busy shopping street and then was found in a black market 10 kilometers away, priced at 1,000 yuan.
Kawahara said he was very excited when he saw his bike again.
"I will trust the Chinese forever, and there is no boundary between China and Japan," Kawahara said. He received a lot of help from Chinese people, he added.
Zhang Wei, 26, a Wuhan resident who provided Kawahara a room to stay, told China Daily that Kawahara is a very kind man and he loves China very much.
"The day before he lost the bike, he looked after some elders as a volunteer in Hanyang district of Wuhan," Zhang said.
Kawahara said his next stop is Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, and the whole journey is expected to last four to five years.