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Why by bike?

Anyone who has ever done a long bike tour will know that each day of your journey you are confronted with many different and interesting situations and impressions – from crossing a border to needing to find something to eat in a rural outpost. Wherever you go you will get to know people from all sorts of backgrounds and communication in a different languages (especially sign language) can be both challenging and amusing.

On your bike you are close to nature with all its diversity and beauty without harming it and you travel at a speed that is slow enough to appreciate your surroundings, but are still fast enough to see in a relative short timeframe how landscapes can change – from plains to mountains, from city to countryside. 

It is precisely these experiences that I wanted to share as a Bike Ambassador which I hope had encouraged others to do something similar with the aim of giving a small positive and sportive contribution to globalization.

But to be honest this was of course also a personal challenge I set for myself: to independently handle extreme situations, to deal with the certain “loneliness of the long-distance rider” and to live the dream of freedom plays an important role in my motivation.

   Meeting Paralympic Gold medal Winner: H. Sacher

    So close to exotic animals: Yaks in Tibet Region

    Seeing most rural nature: Hindu Kush Mountains

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What was the most difficult moment in your trip?

There were few moments, but one of the most difficult moments was being alone in one of the highest mountains in the world, both physically and mentally challenging. I got lost in 5500m altitude and was surprised by bad weather conditions in one of the coldest areas of Central Asia, temperature commonly at -65ºC. I also ran out of food, battling against a bad fever, and diarrhea. So against all the odds, I had to continue cycling on, carrying additional weight of baggage and pilot a bike that weights more than 50kg. 4 days, I had no food or water, couldn’t cook anything due to lack of oxygen to prevent proper operating of my gas cooker. I had to eat frozen ice to keep myself hydrated and ate whatever I had left. Finally, I was found by some local people who took me in, fed me food, and let me rested at their home. I showered for the first time in 4 weeks, and a glass of water tested heavenly. I felt I was given a second chance, a miracle that only happened in fairy tale stories.

During the time I was stuck in the mountains, I lost 10 kg of weight. Many times I had the movie “into the wild” in my mind but I felt that my time hasn’t come yet and God still has plans for me. This faith made me strong and pushed me to fight against all the difficulties that I had in front of me. Every day was my last day, and each time when I woke up, my faith grow stronger, and I just knew I could never give up.

Another very difficult moment was at the end of my trip when I had to return to civilization. Making that adjustment was extremely difficult because after a long time on my cycle tour, all I ever needed was my bicycle, the bare bone essentials and the nature. So the adjustment was to switch back to a world that most things are materialized, and to adopt into that world was very difficult. Often, I found myself hoping to be back on the road, just to cycle on.

   Lost into the wild, 1 week on my own

    -35ºC in no man’s land

    Last food for days to come

What did you take away from your tour?

Following the track of Marco Polo, it has introduced me to different cultures and religions, from Christianity, to Islam to Buddhism.  My way of seeing the world and the people today is completely different than I did before. I met people from all nationalities and religious backgrounds. Most often, I received warm hospitalities. I realized that contrary to what we see every day in the news, most people just want to live peacefully together. I have been treated with the most warmth from places that were labelled by media as radical places. For example, I have had people tried to steal my bicycle in some of the developed countries that I visited, a tool that is the most essential to a cyclist. Meanwhile, in the “barbaric” Muslim world, I was considered as “a messenger of God” and no one ever tried to harm me, quite the opposite, they invited me for tea or food, offering me shelter. I truly believe and will encourage everyone who is reading my story to travel, and enjoy the beauty of the nature and to see this world with an open mind. It is the most honest way to experience different cultures and to find answers ourselves. I also have to admit that sometimes, people who have the least to offer would offer the most to a stranger. This has happened to me over and over.

   Welcome to our home, they said

    Smiling kids

    Lovely people everywhere

Which country is your favorite during your journey?

Difficult to answer as every country has its beauty, especially when I discovered them on a bicycle. Everything I saw and I felt just became so much clearer, and enlarged. Every feeling, every scent and sense just slows down for me. Iran was definitely a big surprise especially people in the cities were well educated and western oriented. I will never forget the experience with some Iranian soldiers. They thought I was an American and started dancing and singing the Hip Hop: “please tell your people that we love USA and don’t want wars”. It was an unexpected experience, considering the relationship Iran and USA have.

See Highlight pictures of countries I visited: Pictures

  Si-o-Seh Pol Bridge of 33 Arches, Esfahan (Iran)

    Hey, tell your friends that we love USA

    They thought I was American and started dancing

Can everyone do what you did?

I strongly believe so. The biggest challenge would be to take the decision and to make it happen. Overcome the harsh weather or to face the difficulties of the road was not so bad once I was on my way. Things became natural because either I stopped or I went forward, and the choice was simple. So to take the first giant step to march forward was probably the most difficult part. I quit the job, sold the house, said farewells to my friends, and stepped into my journey. There was only the future that is unknown in front of me. There was nothing else that I had to be concerned with after that. It was truly an amazing feeling, and very empowering.

Looking back today, it was the best decision I had ever made as my life became more meaningful and enjoyable. I still receive emails from people that I met during the tour, thanking me for giving them the inspiration. It makes me feel positive and encouraged to take on the next challenges in life. I know I will always be able to get great energy from this experience for the rest of my life.

Aside from the mental preparation, I don’t think one would require a lot of additional physical preparation because once I was on the road, my body started the training, and with each day passing by, I got fitter and fitter.

   Camping in No man’s land

    Overpassing 6000m (19600ft) mountains

    Overlooking Hindu Kush Mountains, Tajikistan

Who is “Pingo Kim”?

There is a children orphanage in Vietnam that I wanted to support. Before I started my cycling tour, I already had plans to actively letting the children to take part in my journey. I wanted to show them the world through my eyes and share with them the experiences.

So what’s a better way of showing them all of what I had experienced through the face of a lovely stuffed penguin, an animal that all children would love? So I created this fiction character of Pingo Kim, giving him personality and developing the connection into the human world by providing him with a background story: Pingo Kim was about to start a world tour from his arctic home town, cycling around the world. We decided to do this trip together…

Pingo Kim was the reporter, in charge of our world tour press release, interviewing children wherever we went. In a way, he is very famous and well known among children.

See Pingo Kim’s Picture Album, watch the Oscar nominated Pingo Kim movies or enjoy our travel log!

   Pingo Kim on World Tour

    Pingo Kim has new friends everywhere

    Pingo Kim tells stories

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Can you share some secrets of realizing one’s dream?

Pick a direction, realize that direction into vision, set the goal, and stay focused on that goal until you achieve it. Many people have difficulties to decide on a direction, and often, they will stand still, not move at all. So it is important to pick a direction, and from there, develop it into a vision that can be planned into phases, as goals, whether it’s a 6 month goal, or a 5 year goal. The rest is to constantly revisit that goal to stay focused until it becomes reality. Not long ago, I have decided to study the Chinese language. My vision was to become fluent in Chinese within 2 years and being able to read the most important 800 characters. In order to do so, I set goals: the first 3 months I focused on the pronunciation as essential in Chinese, followed by the next 12 months to focus on oral language, then to start learning how to read the characters. Today I am able to have fluent conversation with Chinese people.

Watch my first interview in Chinese after studying only 4 weeks: link video

Of course, during this process, things may not work out exactly as we thought. I had set an 18-month goal to cycle for 30.000km, which was before I discovered the meaning of my tour, and my new mission that is the “Pursue of Life”. The Journey alone to discover that purpose made me to adjust my initial goal but in the end, it was much rewarding and fulfilling.

   Radio Interview in Chinese

    Press Conference in Chinese

    Speaking to locals in Chinese

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Do you still cycle today?

Yes, I do. Whenever I have some spare time, I’d spend it on my bicycle. It is like recharging the batteries before going back to working mode, which I believe is important. This cycle tour had taught me many things and one of them is to always balance life. My mojo is to work while enjoying life. I will keep updating my cycle experiences on this website!

See my: latest pictures

   Cycling in Grand Canyon, USA

    Cycling in Death Valley, USA

    Cycling in Hawaii, USA