Nepalese cyclists to spread love of peace and the environment

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Sat, Jun 03, 2017 - Page 3

Some people cycle long distances for fundraising, others for adventure, but Anish Dhakal, Dilip Chhetri and Nirmal Baral are travelling around the world to spread a message of environmental protection and world peace.

The three Nepali cyclists set off from Kathmandu on Dec. 30 last year and reached Taiwan on Tuesday by plane from Malaysia.

Along the way, they try to spread their message in any way possible — by speaking to media, participating in cycling events, presenting at schools or participating in a cleanup event in Laos.

With banners and flags on their bikes, they are frequently stopped by passersby, which for them, is another chance to spread the word.

Dhakal said he acknowledges that they do not think they can change the world, but said they believe that every bit counts.

In Taiwan, where they are to stay for up to a week, the cyclists will likely forgo some of the more scenic areas so that they can increase their chances of meeting people, Dhakal said.

“We have to visit more cities so people can catch us,” he said. “We can’t do anything, but if people can only see us and understand what we’re doing, I think that’s enough.”

A 22-year-old environmental activist, Dhakal said he was inspired to make the journey after the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, which caused a lot of destruction in the nation. With no sponsors, Dhakal recruited two friends, both social workers, to join his cause.

He has been asked how he could just leave everything behind for five years, Dhakal said, adding that he wants to “achieve something” and believes that it is time to do something for nature after only taking from it for so long.

“Everyone is busy and they don’t want to stop what they’re doing,” he says. “Nowadays, there’s only economic development. There’s no social development.”

The trip is entirely self-funded, but the team has received help from Nepalese expatriates, including the Nepal Taiwan Association, which helped them find accommodation in Taipei, Dhakal said, adding that if it were not for the association, they would be camping.

They chose to cycle because it is both healthy and eco-friendly, and simultaneously a means to promote eco-friendly practices, Dhakal added.

“If someone like us can cycle from Nepal to another country, why can’t someone in one particular city travel a small distance by bicycle and reduce their carbon footprint?” Dhakal asked.

The trio is looking for opportunities to get involved in Taiwan, and what they find will determine how long they will stay until they depart for their next destination — either South Korea or Japan, he said.