Mon, January 10, 2011
Lifestyle > Travel

Grad has the mettle to pedal

2011-01-10 09:07:37 GMT2011-01-10 17:07:37 (Beijing Time)  Global Times

Zheng Sheng shows the national colors at Songduo township, Qinghai Province last May. (Photo: Global Times)

To most people, traveling from Shanghai to London would be quite easy because they have the most convenient means of transportation - the airplane. But for Zheng Sheng, 23, a graduate student from the Shanghai Science and Technology University, it will be fairly difficult because he is planning to travel by bike.

Zheng is no stranger to long distance biking. Previous long distance bike travels included a 19-day trip from Shanghai to Wenchuan, Sichuan Province two months after the 2008 earthquake and a grueling 20-day trek from Shanghai to the Tibet Autonomous Region to visit Potala Palace.

He estimated that the Shanghai to London trip will take about 150 days and through nine countries.

Planning ahead

"I make full preparations every time before I take off. I always check the routes and plan the time well before going. During my journey, I usually go 120-150 kilometers every day and stay in cheap hotels, which usually costs me 15 yuan ($2) per night, so traveling doesn't cost me too much money," Zheng told the Global Times Sunday.

As well as inspiration Zheng has encountered difficulties.

While pedaling to Tibet, it snowed heavily and his brakes froze so he had to walk the bike. Sometimes, he even had to carry it while climbing steep mountains.

"Although I met with many difficulties during my journey, I never thought about giving up because traveling enriched my life experience and broadened my horizons. During my trip in Tibet, I saw groups of Tibetans making pilgrimages to the sacred places - Buddhist temples from far away, and I was moved by their pursuits for faith. Inspired by them, I began to think about my faith about life," Zheng said.

Zheng, who worked part time and is also sponsored by bike companies for his trips, said he decided on the London trip after graduating from the university in June of 2010.

"Since I still have a lot of spare time, I want to travel around the world," he said.

Visa hassles

Zheng is preparing for the trip now, but the most difficult part is getting visas for the countries he plans to pedal through. He said he was rejected several times while applying for a Russian visa because the visa officers told him that they had never accepted such an application before.

But Zheng did not give up, and a visa official told him he would give him a visa if he can get a Russian company to vouch for him. Zheng, who has a Russian friend whom he met on his travels, said his pal has agreed to help him.

"I am trying to get the evidence and waiting for the Russian visa. At the same time, I am applying for a visa to Kazakhstan. I intend to apply for other visas when I am on the road," Zheng said.

Zheng is also making other preparations. For example, he is learning the languages of several nations and trying to contact residents in the countries to ensure his safety.

"I intend to set off at the end of this February. I am confident because this is not the first time I've gone on a long distance bike trip," Zheng said.

Support and doubts

Xie Xiaofan, one of Zheng's best friends, told the Global Times that she was quite surprised when she heard of his plan.

"In the very beginning, I was doubtful. But I know he is a stubborn person who will do what he says, and he had several similar experiences before. So finally, I decided to support him," Xie said. However, not everyone thinks Zheng's plan is feasible.

Yan Dongdong, a tour guide with the Suzhou-based Sunshine travel agency in Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times that she thought it was impossible for Zheng to achieve his goal.

"He will encounter with many difficulties during his trip, for example, if he is not familiar with the routes and the weather is changeable. Besides, he will feel exhausted," Yan predicted.

Zheng is undaunted. "I know I will come across difficulties, but I also know I will conquer them because many people are supportive of my plan. I will not disappoint them."

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