Saigon-Paris by bike to raise awareness about climate change


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Scotsman Simon Nelson and his Vietnamese girlfriend Nguyen Kim Ngan think rising awareness about climate change is worth giving one year of their lives. Although the bike trip they just started yesterday from Australian International School (AIS) in Ho Chi Minh City and that will take them to Paris during ten amazing, exciting and extremely difficult months sounds like an enjoyable thing to do. Simon has worked for two years as an English teacher in Saigon and Kim Ngan is a novel writer with already four books published in Vietnamese. Simon has been campaigning to stop climate change for over 20 years, he has chained himself to coal fired power stations, attended raves at road protest sites, participated in critical masses on 3 continents and occupied the offices of fossil fuel companies. Now he realized that the United Nations Climate Meeting to be held in Paris next November is the last chance of survival four the Human Species and for the planet as we know it and he decided to do something big. “Either we do something in Paris or that’s it, we’re done”, he bitterly said before departing.

Before leaving
Before leaving

A dozen cyclists, most of them usual Sunday Bike Ride members (even wearing the SBR shirt) joined him for the first few kilometers to take the Cat Lai ferry into Dong Nai province. After the photo session in front of AIS, they all left the school through the busy road, loudly cheered by the students and the teachers who didn’t want to miss such an event. It was a good chance for the younger generations to realize the grim future we face unless we do something. It was a very encouraging start for a trip that will for sure have its difficult moments. They will head to the north of Vietnam, then cross to China, where they will have to do an intense ride to get out of the country before their visa expires. They will shortly go through the Gobi desert, which promises to be as exciting as challenging, enter Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Iran and get into Europe through Turkey for the last stretch. Roughly 15,000 kilometers through all kinds of weathers and sceneries, meeting all kinds of people. They will experience how our behavior, our addiction to fossil fuels, is destroying our beautiful planet. They will see how the livelihood of the people (usually the poorer ones) is so deeply affected.

Actually, they already had the chance to experience it, since yesterday’s was their second departure. Few days ago they had a ride around the Mekong Delta, one area that is bound to deeply suffer the effects of the sea level rise. “We really wanted to commence our journey from the Mekong delta because i think it’s a powerful symbol of just how big a threat climate change is. The Mekong delta is one of the most climate change threatened regions of the world . Much of the area is less than 2 metres above sea level so the oceans expected to rise by as much as 3 metres this century you can imagine just how serious this situation is. Within a generation or two vast areas could well be uninhabitable. And as it’s home to 20 million people and a half of Vietnam’s agricultural production that’s a big problem for the country as a whole”, he says in their blog.

They will find other areas whose inhabitants will be affected and they will tell them about it, create awareness and keep pedaling for a better world, for the only world that is possible.Whoever wants to take part of the fundraising to help affected communities, can make a donation here. Aside from that, we can only wish them good luck for their amazing journey. Bon voyage!

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You can learn more about their trip in their website, Bike for a future. It’s worth following their blog.

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