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31 May 2013 1 comment
Julian Wong - Last Trip With Baba.Travel & Adventure Cycling Stories
In the spring of 2013 I will be departing from California and cycling to mainland China. This will not be an unaccompanied journey as I will be traveling with the ashes of my father, Karming Wong. Last year before he passed away he informed me that he wanted his ashes returned to the place of his birth in Southern China, where they can be placed with his ancestors' remains. Born in a small farming village in the province of Guangdong, he was the eldest child with 3 younger sisters. When Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” was set in motion, it left my father’s family and thousands of others without enough food and money to survive. At 18, leaving his family and friends, my father walked for three days to Hong Kong where he hoped he could earn enough money to support his family. Working any job that he could find he sometimes slept in abandoned buildings and worked late shifts so that he could send home enough money. He eventually found work as a fireman and was introduced to Buddhism on the then isolated LanTau island. After a few years he saved enough money to quit his job and travel to Thailand where he ordained as a Buddhist monk. Last time round it was Julian in the passenger seat and Baba in the saddle. He lived in Thailand for over a year, following the Thai Buddhist practice of eating one meal a day and meditating in the forest. He then decided to learn more about eastern Buddhism and traveled Korea, Japan and then Nepal all the time practicing Buddhism, and seeking out famous teachers. Once while in Nepal he met a counter culture “Beat Generation” Dharma practitioner who lived near Los Angeles. They quickly became friends and my father had the opportunity to come to America. In America he continued to practice Buddhism and eventually met my mother at a Buddhist monastery in San Francisco. They had a family of four and remained together till his death last year. While growing up, my father took me on many trips to China to visit family as well as to travel throughout Asia. During my childhood and throughout college, I would accompany him at least once a year on a trip to Asia, or another part of the world. My most memorable trip with him was in 1992, when he took the family on a six month pilgrimage throughout India, Nepal, Sikkim and Thailand. Julian, centre, on his ride through the Yukon, Canada in 2012. In the last few years of his life I started cycle touring. My first trip was in the summer of 2010, where I went on a 4000 km tour of the Pacific Northwest; cycling through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Alberta, and British Columbia. In 2011 I did a 2000km tour of Oregon and Northern California, and this last summer I completed a 4200km tour of Alaska and Yukon Territory. Early this year I came up with the plan to carry his ashes back to China by bicycle. I figured that if I saved up enough money I could depart with the ashes from my hometown in Southern California and head east until I got to the Atlantic coast, then fly to Western Europe and continue heading east until I got to China. I plan to have a continuous route that leads me from my home town of Murrieta to Dongxing, Guangxi. This is going to be the last trip with Baba. I will be cycling through many of the countries that he talked about traveling to; He had very fond memories of New Orleans really enjoyed seeing the Alps in Switzerland. He always wanted to go to Russia, and I plan riding through Russia to avoid the Caspian Sea. I have outlined a general route on my website, pilgrimsandashes.com, and will be open to any recommendations or input. Thanks to Bregan and Brooks for helping me out, I am looking forward to continue using the new saddle even after the 12,000km tour!