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19:06 Sep 30 2011

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Grad's cycle odyssey to Tibet
09:51, September 30, 2010  

"HOW many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?"

The lyrics of the song in the movie "Forrest Gump" have been etched on the mind of a local university student and inspired him to cycle to the Tibet Autonomous Region alone during the past summer break.

Wu Heng, a postgraduate student at Fudan University, rode his bike 5,000 kilometers from the city to Tibet in 57 days.

"Nothing else can be more beneficial to my wits than traveling alone," he said. "Nothing else is more worth being proud of than to draw my own track on the map."

The 25-year-old bumped along rough roads, fell prey to wild dogs and even became a victim of robbery on the westward journey.

His diaries and photos recording the odyssey have attracted thousands of clicks on, a social networking site.

Wu heard the famous Bob Dylan song for the first time about six years ago, when his university teacher played the movie in class.

He couldn't remember the rhythm clearly, but the question of "how to become a real man" in the lyrics got embedded in his head.

Wu believed that he would find the answer "blowing in the wind" by traveling alone, which helped him gain a quick lesson in life experience.

Fond of traveling, Wu had promised his ex-girlfriend of a romantic gift, a postcard with Tibetan postmarks, on her birthday this year.

"Though our story ended long time ago, I still wanted to live out the promise I made to her," he said.

Starting on July 6, he braved storm and the scorching sun, lost his way, suffered a flat tire, sunstroke, and altitude sickness, and even risked his life during a crash in a dark tunnel and a dangerous fall near a cliff.

He cried twice during his journey.

Wu suffered altitude sickness when climbing a high mountain on August 14. It rained heavily and was very cold. He had little strength to ride the bike and wanted to stop and push the bike to the peak.

But he had to keep riding to reach his accommodation before night to avoid staying outdoors overnight. The pains he endured came back to his mind all the time.

"I cried as I pedaled along the steep slope," he said of his first emotional outbreak.

The second tear burst came about 20 minutes after he got over his initial sobbing.

"I was exhausted," he said. "I took great pains, to pedal with my head lowered and eyes staring at the ground."

Suddenly, a jeep passed by quickly and the great noise aroused his attention. The car passenger rolled down the windows and gave him a thumbs-up!

His eyes welled up in tears immediately. But it was totally different from the first time. "Their respect made all my pain worthwhile," Wu recalled.

Cheers from the Tibetan children and passers-by helped him overcome setbacks as he made his way to his destination. He lost 5 kilograms during the trip, which cost him about 10,000 yuan (US$1,494). The trip's expenses were covered by his scholarship.

"Thirty years from now, I want to tell about the exciting trip to my grandson who will probably sit on my lap and ask me what I achieved in my youth," Wu said. "I don't want to give him the depressing reply that I was too busy preparing for my exams."

By Liang Yiwen Source: Shanghai Daily


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