1,000-km Journey on a Bike in China

Update:20 May 2007

"I did it!" These were Ikawa Tatsuro's first words after he completed a 1,000-km bicycle ride from Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province, to Shanghai, where he arrived on May 8. 

The Japanese man is a student at Shanghai International Studies University, where he is majoring in foreign trade. His adventure started on the morning of April 30, when he boarded a train to Wuhan 

"I was flipping through a brochure two weeks ago and came across the city of Wuhan. I was attracted by the large lakes around the city and decided to plan a bicycle trip from there.  

"I like traveling by bike because it gives me time to survey the countryside in the Chinese inland, as well as save some money," Tatsuro said.  

He arrived at Wuhan in the early morning of May 1 and spent 570 yuan (US$73) on a mountain bike. Thus equipped, he set out for Shanghai with only 30 yuan (US$3.85) in his pocket.  

He spent eight days on the road and, according to the student, he never would have made it had it not been for "farmers' generosity".  

Tatsuro has spent four years learning Chinese and can now speak fluently. This allowed him to explain to farmers along the way that he was hoping for free food and accommodations.  

"Nobody would believe me during the first two days," said Tatsuro. "They thought I was lying and refused to give me food and accommodations."  

On the night of May 1, Tatsuro had to sleep in a truck parked beside the road. The following morning he awoke and found his body was swollen due to numerous mosquito bites.  

On the third day, farmers suddenly changed their attitudes towards the strange Japanese man and were willing to help.  

"Maybe my tanned skin and exhausted appearance persuaded them to believe what I was saying," Tatsuro said.  

Refreshed by good sleep and delicious village food, Tatsuro was in the mood to enjoy the pleasant rural scenes.  

"Chinese villages are totally different from what I had imagined," the Osaka native said. "Supermarkets and villa-style buildings could be seen everywhere. It seems Chinese villagers are living a convenient lifestyle."  

"It was depressing to see villagers still working hard with their hands, instead of machines, and some young children working in the fields," Tatsuro added.  

After riding anywhere from 100 km to 180 km a day, Tatsuro eventually arrived in Shanghai at 6:10 PM on May 8.  

He was very excited by his success, saying he was ready to meet the friends and teachers he had told about his journey beforehand. He said they had supported him spiritually.  

The outing was Tatsuro's first long-distance bike trip. Last October he had to cancel a bike journey to Shandong. He got lost soon after he departed Shanghai, as he had no experience and had forgotten to bring a map with him.



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