Record the Life of Afar
I enjoyed riding very much, especially travel by bike. How much do I like it? The story started with my first overseas cycling three years ago. I used 2 years and 2 months to finish this trip, the total length was over thirty-five thousand kilometers, I traveled through 22 countries of Asia and Africa, and completed a part of my plan which is to bike around the world.
As the old saying goes, man is as his name. My parents named me Yan because they hope me to be a talented and moral person. But the Feng in the middle perhaps indicated that I shall travel afar. I have been dreaming of traveling around the world since I was a kid, and for this craziness, I biked around half of the world. As for the last half of the world, I am going to let wind blows slower, so I can enjoy and rest of them.
This is the general route. I left from Xi’ning, Yunnan, China, went to Vietnam, passed Cambodia to Thailand. I could not go upward, because of the flood, then I flew to India from Thailand, and cycled along the seashore for half a year. Because of the issue of Pakistani visa, I flew to Iran from India and went to Armenia, Georgia, and Turkey from Iran. Syria was at war, the border was closed, so I had to fly to Jordan from Istanbul. I went to Egypt from Jordan and then started biking around Africa. Basically, every African country I went to is listed as following: Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, and South Africa. I mainly used a bike to finish the whole trip, but of course, there were places I could not pass, such as the Red Sea, so I took the boat. The Tazara Railway of Africa is famous, so I tried to travel by train. During my trip, I went to places where other riders did not go, such as the northeast side of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Malawi.
This is the bike I used during cycling, the total weight of the bicycle and luggage was around a hundred kilograms.
I finished this trip with a bike that was assembled by me, without any question, I changed some parts along the way, and when the journey end, most parts had been changed.
Why I started this trip? I think mainly because I was restless and did not reconcile with life. I wanted to do something that I liked to do, go out to see the world, and finish my childhood dream.
I had a master dream because my family was poor and I was bullied a lot. Whenever I was bullied, I hoped that some master would come and rescue me, but he never came. Now I have grown up, I hope to be a master and help the people in need and let the children still have masters in their dreams. When I was cycling around Asia and Africa, I enjoyed being a master because I learned martial arts in Beijing. I had met many Martial Arts fans and young people who loved sports, I taught them a few things and sometimes competed with them a little. They found this knowledge useful.
This picture was taken in Iran, and the young man in the middle is an enthusiastic martial arts fan. He has many martial arts certifications such as Shaolin, Cha Chuan, and Tai Chi. Later, we still communicate through E-mail.
Many African youngsters love Chinese Kongfu. This photo was taken on the beach of Tanzania, I taught some African friends some martial art moves.
People called me master along the road, but I was a fake one. I only made friends through martial arts and scared off some robbers. During this trip, I realized that my power and energy were limited, and most of the time, I felt helpless. In Africa, a small portion of money for us could change some of their lives. But there was nothing I could do since I was in a difficult situation and my power was limited, on the other hand, there were too many people needed help. Many people asked me for money on the road, I did not know that I was heavily in debt until I went to Africa. Dear readers, if you think you are wealthy, please cycling around Africa. If you send out money and give them the help they need, I bet you will be heavily in debt. The locals of Africa might be poor, but they were really kind. Many people helped me, and many people asked for my help, but I could not help them. Therefore, my heart was filled with guilt. I think I can not be a master, but the dream never changes.
I saw many gorgeous scenes, had abundant experiences, met a lot of people, and people with different background, faith, culture, and language when I was cycling around Asia and Africa. There were many damages and difficulties, but in the end, I could only remember the warm things.
When I was in Jordan, I had to ride at night due to a lot of reasons. I was tired and hungry, and there were no signs of villages or people. Later, I finally saw light ahead, but it turned out to be a small shop. Regularly, I would not ride at night, because there were many uncontrollable dangers and unknowns.
I was happy to see the light in the dark, so I dashed towards it. As soon as I got off the bike, a guy from the shop brought two cold soda to me, and I did not hesitate to drink. To save money, I did not dare to buy mineral water, but that night, I decided to give myself a treat. After I finished, I wanted to pay him, he said that they were gifts from a friend and they were free. Later on, he let me rest on his bed and invited me to join him at supper. A drop of water in need shall be returned with a spring indeed. I brought a lot of present along the way since this friend was so enthusiastic, I thought that I should give him something in return. I looked through my bags and found two bright-colored clothes for him. Two Chinese friends gave me these two clothes in Egypt, but bright-colored clothes were not suitable for cycling.
Something I did not anticipate occurred. At first, that guy couldn’t believe it, and then he was as happy as a baby, he hugged me and pranced, he changed into that clothe and showed his friends. And later, he asked me to sit to give me a massage, and he also wanted to wast my feet which really flattered me.
Africa is broad, and some places have no people within a hundred kilometers, and here is the last habitat for wild animals. I passed the National Forest Park when I was cycling around Africa, and it was frequent to see animals on both sides of the road. At first, I was surprised, “Ah! Baboon!”,“Eh, antelope?”,“En, zebra.” Later on, I was not amazed anymore, I did not bother to take photos of giraffes with my camera when they passed.
I finished most parts of the trip alone, and many people asked me, “did you feel lonely when you traveled by yourself?”My answer is one person is very lonely.
Thinking about a picture of a person riding on the road alone with no one around, and you will absolutelyfeel a sense of loneliness.
At the beginning of the trip, loneliness nearly destroyed the entire trip. At that time, I had been biking for three or four months, and I was in India by myself after leaving comfortable Southeast Asia. The food was not my taste, so I did not have enough food. I had to pitch a tent to sleep to save money, and I couldn’t talk to the locals when they tried to speak to me, due to the language barrier, and I always felt like that they had ulterior motives. When someone followed me, I thought they were going to rob me. I was scared when I biked, especially around evening. The sunset was beautiful, but it also terrified me.
When night came, I could not keep riding, but I could not find a safe place to stay for the night, no matter in the city or countryside. Wherever I went, many people watch me, so no place felt safe to me. I closed my heart and lived in panic during that time. I was exhausted. To be honest, I had no fun and started to question the meaning of this trip.
The good thing was I stopped at the right time. I asked myself, “do you want to continue like this？” The answer was no, therefor I stopped. I happened to meet a local surfing club who needed to film an advertising video, and I happened to have a camera, SLR, and a GoPro. They lacked people and equipment, so I stayed under their invitation. I spent every day with the locals during that month, and I was busy, yet content. Gradually, I found feeling and self-value. I opened my heart, so naturally gained a lot. Our video was luckily chosen by the local tourism administration and gave us a large sum of money. The first Indian Surfing Festival opened successfully. During that month, many local friends helped me, and I learned about how to get along with them and how to be a local. I had two pet phrase: everything is nothing, and everything is possible.
The truth is, daily life has its own beauty, not every life is muddle along, and not every wild is in poems and afar. Starting with the small things in life and live your life fully, then you will find beautiful scenes everywhere.
He likes cycling, photograph, martial arts, travel, and outdoor. He biked around 22 Asian and African countries in 2 years and 2 months. During his Asia-Africa journey, many travel enthusiasts and media paid attention to him due to his outstanding achievements. He was reported by media such as CCTV, Bejing TV, Jilin TV, Yunnan TV, Beijing Daily, the Beijing News, China Radio International, People’s Daily Online, Chinanews, China Youth Daily, Sina, Netease, and others. International media of France, India, South Africa and else called him Kongfu Kid, the African Rider, and Narrator of Africa, etc.. He is a signed author of national travel magazines, and he had written for magazines such as Travel, Outdoor Exploration, and Tibet Tourism. He is a member of China Culture & Tourism Photography Association, signed photographer of HelloRF, recommend designer of ZCOOL, the sixth generation of Baguazhang, member of Chinese Wushu Association, member of Baguazhang Association, and the senior trainer of Baguazhang. At the end of 2015, photographer Qi Lin and he started a team named Eyes of Du and Qi, they focused on document the real-life of Africa. At the beginning of 2016, he traveled around Africa again, and they filmed a documentary named the Portrait of the Nile. At June 2016, they went to the second biggest Slum of Africa——Kibera, to mainly film the boxing champion, mobs, bands, movie director in the slum, and the waifs on the street. At the beginning of 2017, they went to Sudan to document the Chinese construction site at rural areas and story of Sudan gold diggers. At July 2017, they kept digging the story of Sudan’s slum. At 2018, they went to Shikoku Temple Pilgrimage. They have been filming a documentary which reflects the sports culture communication between China and Africa.