How cool is it to ride a bicycle? Would it be safe to presume that it is? Have you ever thought of cycling across the country? Or even across the world? Scott Jeffery and Fengyan Du are cycling across continents on a journey to discover the world as we don’t usually see it. Let’s find out how…
Scott is cycling from Wimbledon, England across Europe, the Middle East, South & South East Asia to the place of his birth in Sydney, Australia. Du began in August 2011, from Nanning city in China, after which he headed for Vietnam and then onto Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia before reaching India. From India he plans to proceed onto Pakistan, Iran, the Middle East and a host of other countries before he reaches his destination ‘The Rainbow Nation’, South Africa.
Both cyclists left their jobs and normal lives behind to tread the unknown with the desire to shake off the suffocating pressure of everyday work and find freedom in a humble bicycle journey. Scott in fact chose to cycle to Australia also to pay respect to his father’s decision to immigrate to Australia and to raise money for the charities, ‘Sustrans’ and the ‘Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’.
They had physically prepared themselves for the journey and had planned their logistics precisely to the point. However, they would still advice anyone aspiring to follow their example and be prepared for unforeseen hiccups.
Unlike other means of transport, a bicycle is proven to be eco-friendly and an excellent exercise companion. Scott would second the statement by adding, “A bicycle is good for the environment, it’s good for me physically; and it’s a slow means of transport which lets me see things in a lot more detail and depth. And it’s relatively inexpensive, as you would only need to pay for your food and accommodation.”
Travelling on a bicycle also allows you to meet people and experience cultures with a more intimate approach. Scott for instance recounts being through the tiny villages in India and seeing what many tourists would usually not see or experience. He was fascinated by the villagers’ unique curiosity about who he was and of what he was doing there and that curiosity made him feel special about being in India.
But if Scott was to highlight his trip to India that would be the beautiful bond that exists amongst the country’s people when creating and sharing food. He elaborates this by sharing his experience of dining with a family at Mangalore who taught him the art of eating using his fingers before he tackled a delicious piece of fish.
Du, who spends most of his nights in a tent, is also captivated by rural India’s friendliness. He fondly remembers of someone offering him a bottle of Coca-Cola when he couldn’t afford one himself despite longing for one. In fact, Du received tremendous help on the road every-time he’s faced with a problem with his bicycle. And in return Du would gift his saviour a precious memorabilia in the form of a photograph.
Both Du and Scott believe that India’s young and adventurous can certainly explore their country and the world at large on a bicycle. Du encourages the youth to not be afraid and to take some time off their busy lifestyles to discover the world’s beauty and the intricacies of their lives as well. And if you’re wondering of how much it could cost to cycle the length and breadth of India, Du says that a budget of Rs. 10,000 would suffice.
Scott’s advice is to start with small steps before choosing to make giant leaps. He clearly understands that resources are difficult to avail in India, unlike in the west. Hence he suggests aspiring cyclists to prepare and save the money well in advance of the journey. Furthermore, he urges people to meet their fellow citizens in the other states or even in the opposite coast to generate valuable connections before embarking on bigger journeys.
The cyclists may have followed two completely different routes; set their sights on two completely different destinations; yet they met at a point and formed a link – a human link, whereby every unique person connects, shares and lives. It is a chain that joins and propels a bicycle forward; hence it can only be a chain that will join and propel us forward as one.