With a bag, a bike and the help of some kind strangers he met along the way, Chen Chen’s (陳晨) dream of traveling the world has been accomplished.
The 26-year-old cyclist from Wenzhou, who lost his left leg from the knee down after a tragic car accident 14 years ago, began his journey upon landing in Taiwan on March 4, 2015. He first biked from Taichung to Tainan, then to Taipei. Chen then flew to New Zealand and biked from Christchurch to Aukland. His last leg of the tour was in Australia, where he biked through the Goldcoast, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. In total, Chen traveled an incredible 4,100 kilometers in 76 days.
Chen admits that he wasn’t always this ambitious. After his accident, he said he lost his self-esteem and all motivation. Facing new challenges with his prosthetic leg, Chen closed himself off. His mindset changed when he bought a bicycle, which allowed him to “see the world from a whole new perspective”.
Chen completed three other long-distance bike trips before this. In the last three years, he has biked from Nanjing to Yangzhou, Nanjing to Wuhan and Guangxi to Bangkok. Inspired by the character Chris in Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Chen said he loves the freedom he gets with biking.
This trip was a little different. Knowing the challenges he faced, Chen wanted to spread awareness for others with disabilities throughout his journey. In his bag were two banners, one written in English and another in Chinese, both reading: “Hi, I’m a biker from China, please give me a hug as a sign of respect towards disabled people.” Chen said he received plenty of hugs.
During his trip, he stayed with 25 different local families and avoided tourist locations. Each family provided a bed, a bike route to his next destination and a familiar feeling of comfort.
Of course, Chen’s trip didn’t always go as smooth as he planned, and he said he’d even thought about giving up. Not only was it constantly raining during his Australia trip, but his tires went flat 12 times within five days. Chen told reporters that every time he appeared to be struggling, a stranger stopped by to ask if he needed help.
To thank the numerous friendly strangers that he had encountered, Chen kept track of all their contact information to send them postcards upon his return to China. The biker recently landed in Hangzhou, bringing an end to his 2015 trip. The story, however, doesn’t end here. Chen said he is planning to work and earn enough money for his 2018 bike tour around the world.
[Images via Tencent]
By Sharon Choi