Wheels Around the World
Do you have the courage to pursue your dreams? If you doubt your own abilities, perhaps you can take inspiration from the story of two Taiwanese women who made their wish come true. Like many other young people, Lin Chi-ying (Vicky) and Chiang Chiu-ping (Pinky) dreamed of traveling the world. What makes them special is that they actually did it; what’s more, they did it on bicycles.
Cycling was their preferred method of transportation because “bikes bring us closer to nature, local people, and the way they live,” said Vicky. Beginning in July 1998, Vicky and Pinky spent 922 days cycling through 32 nations, in all five continents. By the end of their epic journey in November 2001, they had experienced for themselves the vast beauty of Alaska, the bright lights of Europe, rural life in Turkey, and the breathtaking African wilderness.
At 18, Vicky read the famous “cycling diary” of Hu Rong-hua. Always an active and outgoing girl, she was inspired to take a solo bike tour of southern Taiwan. Two years later, in 1991, while riding along the island’s east coast, she met a Japanese cyclist, who invited her to join him on a world cycling tour.
In July 1998, they began their trip in Alaska. Vicky soon realized, however, that their travel philosophies were quite different. Her partner seemed intent on testing his stamina, while she preferred admiring the fantastic scenery and meeting the locals. They parted after a month. Vicky cycled alone through the Rocky Mountains down to the western United States. By this time, her constant efforts to persuade her college friend, Pinky, to join her had succeeded.
Although Pinky was more conservative than Vicky, she found that she, too, had an adventurous spirit. They met up in San Francisco, and headed north in summer, south in winter, like migratory
birds chasing the sunshine.
Once, in California, Vicky and Pinky were unable to find any cheap accommodation, so they camped in a park. They were woken up by armed police officers, who told them camping there was illegal. They found a more peaceful location, or so they thought: The next morning, they got a rude awakening from water sprinklers.
In cities, they would wander through colleges and libraries, “in need of air-conditioning,” Pinky joked. Such facilities, in fact, “allow travelers to fill up on local information and take a break-physically and mentally.”
Vicky and Pinky praise friends back in Taiwan who supported them financially, as well as the many people who assisted them along the way. They have fond memories of the wonderful hospitality of the people in a Turkish village, where Vicky and Pinky farmed, cooked, and danced with the locals.
Having experienced the warmth of the human spirit firsthand, they certainly agree with the words of novelist Paulo Coelho: “When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it.”