Cui Guixiao poses for a photo at Hongqiling scenic spot near Mohe county in Heilongjiang province. Qian Cheng / For China Daily
Cui Guixiao is looking forward to next month, because he hopes to return to his hometown of Hengshui in Hebei province, which he left 33 years ago.
"They helped me get in contact with my elder sister and will hopefully send me home soon," said the 63-year-old, referring to the Beiji border police.
Cui left home in 1985 after falling out with his family, and subsequently lost contact with them.
In the following years, he made a living doing odd jobs in Hebei and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region before moving in 1991 to Mohe, the northernmost county in Heilongjiang province.
He followed the advice of locals, becoming a logger in Hongqiling at a lumber storage yard about 100 kilometers from the county seat, and never left.
Through diligence and wisdom, Cui became an expert in logging. However, with the promotion of the central government's Natural Forest Protection Project in 2000, commercial logging in the Greater Khingan Range was gradually halted, and Cui lost his job.
He went back to a life of relying on odd jobs for income, such as a fisherman and a cattle herder.
In recent years, with the rapid development of tourism in Mohe, Hongqiling has become a scenic spot attracting tourists due to its location close to the Heilong River.
In 2010, Cui found a job in a family-run hotel. In the summer tourist season, he is the only waiter at the hotel, and in other seasons, his employer leaves him to watch over the rooms.
"Conditions are much better than before. In the past, I was only allowed to sleep in the cellar, but now I am living in a bright room," Cui said.