They have survived approximately 15,000 km by bicycle, countless nights in the jungle, malaria in Bangladesh and robberies in Thailand and Malaysia, not to mention flat tires. But the Nepalese World Peace Cyclists were still optimistic about spreading peace and brotherhood when they arrived in Phnom Penh with only $20 on Sunday.
The group of four—which began a nine-year journey Dec 7, 2004—has dwindled to two, one of them falling ill at the beginning of the voyage and another catching tuberculosis in Bangladesh.
“Peace is the most necessary, important and greatest thing in the world,” 30-year-old schoolteacher Lok Bandhu Karki said. “We believe that the people of Cambodia are honest, loyal and helpful as well as peace-loving.”
Dhakeswor Chhetri, a 49-year-old farmer, social worker and grandfather, continued despite catching malaria on the mission, which has already brought the men to China, Bhutan, India, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei.
The two arrived in Phnom Penh by plane—only their second so far—with their bicycles in pieces and barely enough money for a taxi, Sunday night’s lodging and two Cambodian flags to fly on their handlebars.
Monday night they slept at Wat Ounalom, and they were spending a few days in the capital before their three-week tour around Cambodia, though they hadn’t yet studied their map or made any plans on Tuesday morning.
“No one is sponsoring us, so we want to request social welfare organizations as well as individuals to provide us lodgings and food,” Lok Bandhu Karki said.
They began with $6,000 and made it as far as Bangkok, where they were robbed. They have since survived on the kindness of strangers, particularly monks and police, they said.
They are now about halfway through the first leg of their journey, planning to travel from Cambodia to Vietnam on their way to Australia. Next year they plan to take a few months rest and share their experiences in Nepal before cycling on to West Asia, Africa, Europe and eventually the US.