Sukabumi (Indonesia) (AFP) - Indonesian third-grader Mukhlis Abdul Holik begins the long haul to school with a knapsack strapped to his back and hands stuffed into a pair of sandals -- to guard against road burn.
It is no ordinary trip for the eight-year-old. He has severely deformed feet and legs so tiny that he only reaches up to his classmates' waists when standing.
With his mom in tow, the gap-toothed pupil crawls from his West Java village across rocky paths and an old wooden bridge that he navigates on his hands alone, as his sneakers dangle in the air.
Holik's heartwarming story has become a sensation across the country of 260 million, and earned him a meeting with Indonesian president Joko Widodo, after media covered his trip to school and back -- a distance of nearly six kilometres.
"The road is steep but he crawls every day," said Holik's mother Pipin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
"If we've got money, then he can take a motorcycle taxi but if things are tight, he's got to crawl. He never complains.... rain or shine, he always goes to school."
Holik met the country's leader on December 3 -- the UN's International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
"I asked Abdul when we met if he wanted anything from me," Widodo said in a statement.
"I thought he'd want me to give him a present. But he didn't want anything. He just said he wanted to go to university."
The pupil declared himself "very happy" for meeting his idol Widodo, who got a full report on Holik's ambitious future plans.
"I want to be a firefighter, a doctor and an astronaut," he told AFP.