‘Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailas’ / On the Red Road for Peace!
By F.A. Hutchison
‘Oh, those memories I left behind!’ (Enya)
I’ve been in Nepal, this time, almost eight months, hosted by my close Nepali friends Dr. C.M. Yogi / Hindu Vidyapeeth Schools, Subodh Gautam, and P.B. Thapa. But, by the end of May, we’ll be up in Tibet on the way to Mt. Kailas, roughly 1000KM northwest of Kathmandu.
It’s taken roughly 650 days to travel from Colorado, USA to Kathmandu, Nepal, half way around the world (12,000 miles / 20,000KM)! But, an old man on a bicycle is in no particular hurry, as he knows the journey is the destination!
Cycling peace is what we’re all about. Talking about it, talking about the concept of consciousness, and how we believe peace is such, and thus the need to raise awareness and understanding. We also talk about the simplest, yet most powerful energy in existence, love! I travel to foreign countries to demonstrate that not all Americans are ‘gun-toting Dirty Harrys!’
By the way, text and images of our ‘Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailas’ is available via a WEB site: www.cyclingpeace.org
This first ‘leg,’ entitled, ‘Colorado Springs to Sierra Blanca.’
In order to travel a bicycle, it must be packed (at least in the western world). Before departing Colorado Springs, my friend Brian Gravestock took special pains to pack my bicycle. If you’re ever in Colorado Springs, visit Brian’s Bicycle Repair, in an old warehouse adjacent the RR tracks downtown (‘Centrum’).
The first ‘phase’ of the journey was ‘Colorado Springs, to Sierra Blanca,’ Colorado, June, 2003. This first part wasn’t a long trip in terms of miles (in U.S. – 1 mile = 1.6KM), the distance from Colorado Springs to Sierra Blanca something like 300 miles / 500 kilometers roundtrip. But, it was arduous with my heavily loaded, wide-tires bicycle having to negotiate the mountainous terrain.
The second ‘leg’ / ‘phase’ of the Pilgrimage began in January 04, when I took the bus from Colorado Springs to Minneapolis, Minnesota (to fly to Iceland and Norway).
In Minneapolis, I was picked up by Rajan Devkota, the first Nepali person I ever met (via the Internet in 1997). He is a successful software engineer with American Softcom in Minneapolis. He drove me to his house where his new wife had dahl bhat waiting for us. Then he took me to the airport for my flight to Norway. I would be another eight months before I would eat dhal bhat again (in Nepal).
After one freezing night in Reykjavik I was off to Oslo, Norway, to be met by an old friend living in Sweden. I spent the next two months with her and her children in Dalsland, Sweden. Sweden, the Swedes call the ‘land of lagum,’ or the land of ‘just right!’ And Sweden is pretty close to being ‘just right!’
I had always wanted to experience a winter in the northern climes, like in Sweden. Luckily, I missed the coldest artic winter on record (05), by one year (04). But, it was cold enough in 04 (coldest –25C.). I think I cycled in –17C.
Then 2 April 04, I struck out for Utrecht, The Netherlands, some 1300 kilometers / 800 miles south. It would have been no problem except for the fact I had so little money. I think I departed with $65U.S. for a two-week trip (hardly enough).
Everything else was terribly expensive and honestly I don’t know how I would have made it without friends (guardian angels). I remember sending an ‘SOS’ message to my friend Jim Speer in Colorado Springs.
Halfway down the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, it started to rain (fought the rain and wind most of the way south). This turned into snow outside a city called, Vyborg. By the time, I found a camping park in Vyborg , I was dead tired and wet to the bone. But, the camping site, just a piece of ground for my tent, cost $20U.S. and I said no thank you. I had just passed a hostel, and thought if I’m going to spend any money, might as well be for a place where I can dry out. But, I was concerned about the rate as I knew I didn’t have much in my bank accounts!
Sure enough one person in a room with two bunk beds cost $30U.S. But, when the clerk said there was a vacancy, I jumped on it! Oh, it was so nice to be inside, while it snowed beyond the windows. At these moments you say a silent prayer. I remember asking for help, as I gave her my bank card not knowing if the room charge would clear or not. I remember the first bank card was rejected. Then the other bank card I have was put to the test. The world stood still for a moment, as I waited for the little machine to bless me or not. I’ll never forget the sound of the machine printing out the charge slip! I almost fell on my knees my relief was so great! I wouldn’t have to sleep out in the snow. My friend Jim Speer had come through for me once again (by depositing money in my account, I think $100U.S.)!
I went to sleep listening to Enya and her ‘The Very Best Romantic Years!’ (nee ‘Oh, those memories I left behind!’) This was one of the best nights of my life—so happy to be comfortable in a warm bed!
I remember Denmark as a sea of windmills, wind, rain, mixed with the aroma of cow manure. I got lost many times in Denmark, but then always saved by the kindness of Danish strangers! Everywhere I turned there was a farm and farmers out plowing, as the season was just dawning.
I camped two nights (Easter weekend) in a fishing camp / resort parking lot (without paying). Then the following morning I crossed the border into Germany!
Outside of Husum, Germany, I got lost on a highway where I shouldn’t have been. So, I headed for ‘Zentrum.’ ‘Zentrum’ means ‘city center’ in German. ‘Centrum,’ means the same in Dutch, Swedish, and Danish.
Stuck next to a line of automobiles waiting for a light to change, I knocked on one driver’s window! It just so happened that I picked the right driver, a young man named Tim. Not only did he help, but he changed his entire day just for me! He was very frustrated he couldn’t speak better English, but I kept reassuring him I understood.
He took me the Central RR station in an attempt to find a map. Then when that didn’t work we went to the machines to check about a ticket (Note: You buy everything by machine in Europe.). I didn’t really understand as I had had no plans to take a passenger train. While we were figuring the possibilities a German woman named, Petra-Ulpts Lamping approached us. She offered a deal, basically a ticket to the town where I needed to spend the night. I was suspicious, however
Then while the three of us discussed my situation, another German woman walked up, and pressed $50U.S. cash into my hand (in Euros). I was overcome! In just a matter of moments all my problems had been solved. This German woman, who I’ve become friends with since, is named Rotraut Boyens. We have started together a fund to help travellers we call ‘The Loving-Kindness Fund!’
Not only did I get a ticket, cash, Petra diverted her return trip home so I would have a guide (she was concerned I wouldn’t get to where I was going). So, within hours of being lost outside of Husum, Germany, I was on a train with Petra, zooming through the countryside. I fell asleep as in a dream… this trip taking two hours (would have taken me all day on ‘My Fiets’).
I arrived in Utrecht, The Netherlands, on the 14th day (April 16, 2004), averaging almost 80 kilometers per day (from Rannelanda, Sweden). I can’t tell you how happy I was to see my host and friend Melvin de Vries and to ultimately meet his entire family!
Holland is ‘heaven,’ for cyclists! I call it the land of boats (canals) and bicycles! Not only are there thousands of kilometers of paved bicycle paths (complete with direction signs), you don’t have to go very far to find a bicycle shop. The Dutch understand bicycles like no other culture.
Melvin understands bicycles like no other Dutch person. We first went to his shop in Uinthoorn, where he’d worked at Huub Blom’s Tweewielers. Huub is a great guy, and very knowledgeable about two-wheelers! Additionally, he’s one of our sponsors as he compt’d all the work that Melvin did on my bicycle! If you’re ever in Uinthoorn, The Netherlands, a short distance from Schipol Airport, drop in and say ‘hello!’
My other ‘sponsor’ in The Netherlands, is the de Vries family: Erik, Petronella, Melvin, Christiaan, Fabian, and Hans! I believe them to be the quintessential western nuclear family, and in all the world! Had it not been for their generosity, I wouldn’t be in Nepal. But, then again if it hadn’t been for hundreds of people’s generosity I wouldn’t be here in Nepal either! And all their names I intend to invoke at Mt. Kailas.
I had originally planned to cycle to Moscow, Russia, via Finland. Then to take trains to Bishkek, Krygyzstan, as I had planned to climb Peak Lenin. The idea was to continue on into far west China and approaching Mt. Kailas from the west. But, plans do change. One of the best traits for a professional traveller is flexibility. What to do when things go wrong?
Then the idea of flying directly from Europe to Kathmandu, Nepal, came to me. The only problem again, the cost involved. But, then more guardian angels in the name of the people at Hindu Vidyapeeth School, namely Dr. C.M. Yogi. They agreed to loan me the money for part of the fare, which I would pay back while in Nepal.
Thus, ‘My Fiets,’ and I came to Nepal via Martin Air, and the United Arab Emirates.
On the flight from Amsterdam, Holland, to Sharaz, UAE, I slept most of the way (departed late in the evening). But, having a window seat I awoke to the desolate dessert of Iraq, backlit with the rising sun. The scene cast dusty waves of the war into my mind. Like, ‘down there,’ people are getting killed. People are suffering!
‘When will each person’s good, be everyone’s rule, and peace be like a shaft of light across the land?’
Waiting for me at Tribhuvan Airport was my dear friend Subodh Gautam (and his friend Thanka Pokharel). And thank God they’d had the patience to wait, as I was hours trying to get through customs!
If interested in joining us to Mt. Kailas, contact F.A. Hutchison via email: email@example.com
In Kathmandu: 5553372