Cycling the world

Published On: February 9, 2019 02:56 AM NPT By: Anish Dhakal

Anish Dhakal

Anish Dhakal

The contributor for Republica.

People were stopping our bikes to take pictures with us during our trip to Asia. Few strangers even invited us to their homes

In April, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit my country, sending shockwaves of destruction throughout the country. It killed nearly 9,000 people and injured almost 22,000. This destruction triggered me to the core to do something for nature. I slowly began giving minute contributions by working with my friends for the environment by volunteering in different events and social works. 

Traveling to new places and making new friends was always my interest. I decided to travel to various countries around the world through bicycle. On December 30, 2016, I along with my friends Dilip Chhetri and Nirmal Baral, started our journey with the slogan “Environment Protection and World Peace.” We chose bicycle because of its eco-friendly nature. It neither pollutes environment nor does it consume fuel. Along with that, it has countless health benefits. 

With banners and flags on my bike, I have paddled more than 30000 kilometers. I packed my bags and began cycling around the globe on December 30, 2016, from Kathmandu, Nepal to India by crossing Banbasa border.  I have so far reached India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and the USA. Passers often stopped us as they were amazed to see a group of three cyclists riding with a banner and two flags (flag of Nepal and the country we were in at that moment). In the course of my journey, I came across a lot of people (especially youths), who got fascinated by my mission trip. I got a fair chance to spread awareness among them as well.

Unforgettable memories 
 A stretch of road from Jessore to Magura in Bangladesh gave me a memory hard to forget.  I have also encountered a situation where I was knocked down along with my bike by a bus. Fortunately, I escaped with minor scrapes and bruises. We got lost a number of times in Laos. We endured the hunger and thirst in isolated places, backaches and leg cramps throughout the trip with all of our provisions and our last drop of water gone. Sometimes extreme hot temperature would completely dehydrate us and sometimes we were attacked by heavy rainfall (in Brazil). The most unforgettable time was crossing towards Bangkok from Myanmar- Thailand border: It was uphill, there were no houses around and no food. At last, we slept at the roadside. The other unforgettable incident is from Laos. While riding towards Cambodia our bike axle was broken down and we were stuck in the middle of nowhere. There were no houses nearby and we had to experience hunger for one and half day. Next morning, we were rescued by local people. 

A very generous man in Singapore stopped us while we were cycling from the airport and after hearing about our noble mission he gave us more than $100. People were stopping our bikes to take pictures with us during our trip to Asia. Few honest strangers even invited us into their homes and fed us and gave us money to continue our trip. We are thankful to Bangladesh’s cycling association, Bangladesh Cyclists. 
We had covered almost all the terrains in the Indian subcontinent and badly in need of spares and tubes. Bangladesh cyclist association aided us by giving bicycle tubes for free. The warmth of the Brunei people is indelible. As Brunei was quite expensive, we received drinks and water from the locals. We were also offered free food from a number of restaurants in Bandar Seri Begawan (capital of Brunei) after they knew that we were cycling for a noble cause. 

Cycling around South America is as memorable. We got a lot of support in Chile from local people. We were offered free accommodation and free food. I had a relaxing experience after resting and floating in the Dead Sea. 

Representing Nepal, we participated in a bicycle parade to mark the Independence Day of Sri Lanka on February 4, 2018. I have conducted talks, interviews and shared my ideas and experiences about how to live an eco-friendly lifestyle to spread the message of goodwill to the world. We successfully managed to organize cleanup events in Laos. We gave talks in schools, and told students about various issues like global warming, climate change, deforestation, water pollution and highlighted the importance of peace and love. 

During my travel, I spent the night in a lot of religious places such as Buddhist monasteries in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, Hindu temple in Argentina and church in South Korea. In the Buddhist monasteries, I saw young kids praying to Lord Buddha. The determination of those young monks really inspired me. This was a totally new and astounding moment of my life. From the temple in Argentina, I learned to make peace with my mind especially after having rough times due to long and restless traveling. This helped me keep calm even in the darkest situations of my life. Lastly, from the church in South Korea, I learned the kindliness of human heart. Seoul is considered to be a very expensive city. Even in this expensive environment, the people from church were kind enough to provide me with a place to live and food to eat. 

We faced problems due to language barrier but sometimes only a big smile worked in our favor. Hilarious moments were probably related to communication. Sometimes our hand gestures were translated in wildly different ways than we had proposed.

Think of nature 
There are very few people who care for our mother nature and who even exploit her. We have been so intoxicated by modern life styles: We want those modern-stylish cars, we want those fast racing bikes and we will do anything to get our hands on them. We have created tremendous factories, burnt fossil fuel-every year we burn metric tons of greenhouse gases and blow them into the face of our mother nature. 
Over the years environment degradation has become a big issue on our planet. We take everything from the planet and give none to it. During my travel I understood the importance of environmental protection and world peace.

Travelling has taught me sympathy, empathy, compassion and patience. Travelling is learning, and it makes you more generous. My travel was not sponsored. I saved up my own money and often relied on the generosity of the people—late Raymond Chew, Victoria, Abril Ortiz and her family, Kjartan Code, Juan Pablo, and Candelaria to mention a few—I met on the road. 

Life is fantastic on a bike. Try once and you will stay in peace with nature.

The author is currently based in Texas, US

Leave A Comment