Singapore

S'porean travels across 12 countries on e-bike built by his company

S'porean businessman fulfils dream of Silk Road trip

A Singaporean businessman has cycled nearly 6,500km across 12 countries from Europe to China on the ancient Silk Road on a solar-powered electric bike developed by his factory in Shanghai.

Mr Ching Wai Won , 68, completed his epic road trip in 60 days from June to August.

He started from the mountainous Chamonix in France and ended in Kashgar, a key oasis town on the ancient trading route in Xinjiang, China.

In between, he took breaks from riding, including travelling across a couple of difficult stretches on a lorry, and playing tourist for 10 days in Iran and Uzbekistan.

"I'm a history buff and I had always wanted to make the Silk Road trip on my own," said Mr Ching, who had done several other long cycling trips, from Shanghai to Kashgar, Perth to Sydney and from Katima Mulilo in Namibia to Cape Town in South Africa.

"The trip was very tough. I had to complete it within that two-month period as I didn't have more time. I had to ride from daybreak to evening, sometimes 12 to 14 hours a day without stopping, so there was not much time for relaxation and fun," he said.

Mr Ching, whose firm, eZee Kinetic Technology, produces electric bicycles, is pulling out of China after nearly 20 years.

He was told by local authorities that he had to close his factory on the outskirts of Shanghai as it had been illegally built.

I’m a history buff and I had always wanted to make the Silk Road trip on my own. Mr Ching Wai Won

His factory of 30 workers makes 3,000 e-bikes a year for export and has an annual turnover of 20 million yuan (S$4 million) to 25 million yuan .

Instead of moving further inland in China, Mr Ching has bought a factory in Port Klang in Malaysia, and hopes to start operations by early next year.

"I was desperately looking for an alternative location. Malaysia is very close to home. And everything is affordable," he told The Straits Times.

Mr Ching estimated he spent about 100,000 yuan on his Silk Road trip, including staying at nice hotels and eating at good restaurants whenever possible.

But he still slept on benches and by the roadside on a few occasions when he could not find proper lodging.

Along the way, drivers would try to stop him for wefies. Sometimes he would oblige, but most times, he just waved them on, as he had a schedule to keep.

"A lot of times, when I face huge mountain ranges with passes of over-2,200m elevation or deserts with very bad roads, or no civilisation around for hundreds of kilometres, it was so daunting," he recalled.

"It was very useful to tell myself - Keep Calm and Carry On. Because in reality, that was about all I could do under those circumstances."

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