Around the world on two wheels

Published : 10:04 am  June 22, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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 cycle2Wouldn’t it be great if you could just get your old bicycle oiled up, strap on a tent and a sleeping bag, ask your neighbour to keep an eye on your house and take off to see the world? Yes, it’s possible, at least for José Hernani Moreira Cardoso.

José, an ambitious cycling enthusiast from Portugal began his journey around the world on two wheels on the 20th of May 2014.

Today he has found himself cycling all the way to Sri Lanka. In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Jose recounts the colourful tale of his journey on two wheels.


Q : Tell us a little bit about yourself and your love for cycling.
I’m a cyclist from Portugal. I’m 54-years old and retired. I decided to travel around the world on my bicycle simply because I didn’t want to stay home.

Q : What inspired you?
I have two goals in this tour. The first one is to deliver the bicycle that I’m riding to its rightful owner. This bicycle belongs to a Chinese man named Eric Feng, who travelled from Kunming in China to Lisbon in Portugal in the year 2012. But before Feng reached Lisbon someone stole his bicycle just 200 km south of Lisbon.

Feng and I were on the same cycling network called the Warm Showers Community; a free worldwide hospitality exchange for cycling tourists. They called me to help and I advised Feng to go to the Police and file a complaint. I lent him my bicycle to finish the tour. Some months later the Police called me saying that they found the bicycle, and now I’m on my way to China to return the bicycle to Feng.

Q : What is the other goal?
The other goal is to retrace the footsteps of my country. I want to see the places that my ancestors have been to and what they have done. I could have travelled around the world just to see new places but that would be meaningless. This way I can travel and re-live history too.cycle3

Q : How did your friends react when they heard of your plans?
My friends, including my family in the beginning told me that I was crazy. Some of my friends didn’t even believe that I really would do it. But as soon as I started pedalling away and when months went by they realised that I wasn’t crazy and that I actually was going through with this.

Q : How many countries have you been to so far?
With Sri Lanka it would be 30 countries. I started from Portugal, crossed into Spain, Morocco, France, Tunisia and so on…


Q : What was the overall experience like?
The best experience was communicating with all kinds of people from different places. It is an amazing experience. I have to say that in Iran and Oman I witness great hospitality. The people in those two countries were very friendly. They invited me every single day over to their houses, to stay the night. They even stop you on the road just to talk to you and to have tea with them, even though I’m a total stranger.

Q : What do you think of Sri Lanka?
cycle4I’ve been in Sri Lanka for one week. It reminds me a little bit about my childhood. Even though I was born in Portugal I was raised in Angola in Africa. The weather here is quite similar to the weather in Angola back in the 60s and 70s. It’s interesting and the food is lovely!

Q : You have been halfway around the world. What was the food experience like?
I loved the food experience. The most exquisite food I’ve had so far was in Iran; it was a dish of goats’ eyes. It’s a dish made with boiled goat meat and the eyes of the goat. It was an interesting dish and it tasted good.



Q : How do you carry your baggage and were there any difficulties you encountered?
I carry my baggage in my bicycle. I live out of a backpack. It’s difficult sometimes when you go up the mountains but if you go slowly there’s no problem.

So, far the visa requirements of every country I’ve been to were simple and trouble free. Sometimes it took a little time with countries like Iran to get my visa approved, but otherwise I’ve had a trouble free journey so far.cycle5

Q : What is your most unforgettable experience?
I lived in a deserted island for three days. There are some islands in Portugal, where you need special permission to visit. These three islands are heavily guarded. I obtained the permission while on my trip. They take you on a boat, drop you on this island with your food and water and you get to come back in three days. This was my most unforgettable experience.

Q : When you traced the footsteps of your country’s travellers, were there places that you felt as if the Portuguese influence remained intact?
In Oman, Muscat, there are several beautiful Portuguese forts. They belong to UNESCO world heritage sites. These forts are still being used by the Omani military and they are very well preserved.

When you stand in front of these massive forts you think about how your people built them some five hundred years ago. It’s quite divine.


cycle6Q : What do you feel about the colonial history your country has left behind in Sri Lanka?
According to the maps I saw, many forts that have been built by the Portuguese and then taken over by the Dutch are still known as Dutch Forts. But these forts were not built by them.

Q : So, do you think we should rename our forts as Portuguese forts?
No, I don’t think so. I think that if a fort is situated in Trincomalee for example, then the fort should be named as the Trincomalee fort. It should have the name of the city it belongs to.

Q : So, where do you go from here? How many countries are you planning to visit?
So far, I’ve been to Negombo and then Colombo. I am planning to go around the island. I will travel to Galle, Batticaloa, Jaffna and then back to Colombo. The next country in my list would be India where I will be cycling from Kochi to Delhi. Then it’s Bangladesh and Nepal and so on. I haven’t counted how many countries I will be visiting yet. There’s so many!

Q : What are your plans for China?
When I reach China I will return my bicycle to Feng in Kunming. Then I have to buy a new bicycle to finish the rest of my tour. So, from Kunming, I will turn south to Singapore, go to Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and then up again through Philippines to Macau, Japan, South Korea, Canada, all the way down to South America from there and finally home.