11 novembre 2007

Ils ont fait le tour du monde en velo

Félicitation à ces 2 courageux Wan et Mou.

leur site web : Thaibikeworld.com

La porte de la serenite


First Thai couple to ride around the globe


Riding a bicycle for four months across a desert, surviving a gang shooting, confronting a western diamondback rattlesnake, being jailed for illegal entry and failing to bid farewell to dying parents were part of the five-year, 11-month journey Wan and Mou took around the globe.

Charoen and Orawan Othong became the first Thai couple to cycle around the world on Nov 1. They completed a 40,000-kilometre journey through 43 countries and five continents.

Mrs Orawan, or Wan, turned her passion for cycling into reality with her husband Mou by her side.

''Cycling around the world has always been my dream since I was a teen and won an AFS scholarship to the US. Scholarship recipients from different countries whom I met have inspired me to really want to see the world,'' said Wan.

She had an adventurous father who loved to take his family out to explore every nook and cranny of Thailand.

''I grew up in Sukhothai, where I cycled to a secondary school every day,'' she said.

But globe-trotting was not on Mou's to-do list. He never spent his childhood away from his southern hometown of Nakhon Si Thammarat. He went to Bangkok when he was 18 to further his studies. After graduation, he worked for nine years, six days a week as a foreman at a construction site.

His dream was simple _ to go trekking on nature trails, to capture the virgin beauty of nature on camera and enjoy homestay accommodation.

''It took Wan a year and a half to persuade me to give up my fears and to help her make her dream come true,'' he said.

The couple started with a one-million-baht budget and received sponsorship from local public and private agencies. Their project, called Two-Wheel Ambassadors, was aimed at promoting Thailand and cycling to the world.

After a year of planning, Wan quit her job at the United States embassy and led her spouse off into the unknown.

Wan said Tom Claytor, an American bush pilot who had flown to seven continents, was their inspiration and mentor.

Their epic journey was filled with laughter and tears and covered many off-beat places. They pedalled over four months for 4,000 kilometres through the Atacama Desert in Chile, which has not seen a single drop of rain in 200 or more years. They have been through the heat and rugged terrain of the driest desert in the world, and been battered by desert storms and lightning.

Wan said after surviving nature's fury, they were left penniless by five masked thieves in the Andes Mountains in Ecuador, who took off with their computer, camera, cash and credit cards. They survived by eating bread the bandits stomped into the sand.

Wan came face to face with a western diamondback rattlesnake in Nevada. Also in the United States, a teenage gang ambushed them for no reason.

They spent hours behind bars in Eastern Europe for illegal entry before help arrived from high-level officers.

''Mou took a month's break during the trip to take care of his ailing mother, who died when he returned to bike across the US. Six months later, my father passed away,'' Wan said.

Despite all their fear and sufferings, Mou said they appreciated the countries and the people they met along the way.

They finished their journey on Nov 1, but that is not the end of their project. It just marks another step and the couple will now spend time inspiring Thai children to follow their dreams.

Apart from their tight schedule of giving lectures at 80 schools nationwide, Mou said they are writing a book on their experiences. Exhibitions will be held to showcase their photos, stamps and more than 1,000 postcards they sent home to raise funds for the project.

Mou said they would set up an eco-tourism resort and invite people they met around the world to visit Thailand.

''After all we have been through, I suppose nothing could surprise us anymore. We learned to let go and lead a sufficient life,'' Wan said. ''Even money means nothing.''


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