Around the world on her bike
Towards the end of the last century, two girls in Osaka, Japan decided to ride their motorbikes beyond the horizon of their homeland to the United States. But before they could commence on their journey, tragedy struck and one of them died in a traffic accident. However, their shared dream did not end with her death.
This wish remained unscathed in the heart of her friend. And in June, 2000, Minori Nishimura, who was 27 at the time, embarked on the journey all alone.
“I rode to the US as a tribute to my friend,” says Nishimura, She was in Kathmandu recently staying at the Thamel Guest House. But interacting with the country’s “beautiful” people, she had this urge to meet people of other countries too.
And her journey did not end just the US tour. It has taken her across the world and her journey still continues.
She was here on the third phase of her tour across the globe. This phase comes to an end in Bangladesh and she will already be there by the time one gets to read about her amazing journey across continents, people and cultures.
Nishimura has travelled over 201,000 km across 77 countries. In the first phase of her journey, she travelled across the North American continent; the second phase saw her blaze across Europe and South America; and in the third phase, she has covered Africa and Asia, starting from Cape Town, South Africa. Her next phase will take her to Australia.
Wasn’t she scared to venture on a journey alone across continents, and that too being a woman?
Nishimura says her journey was actually made easier because she was a woman.
“People were ready to lend a helping hand whenever I was stuck,” she says adding, “The journey was easier than what I had anticipated.”
On being scared, this is what she had to say, “While in Canada, I wasn’t confident enough to enter Mexico due to security reasons. But a friend told me, ‘Just go ahead, never surrender’. This kept me moving.”
She adds she never felt lonely in her travels as she was always accompanied by the fond memories of her lost friend and, of course, the people she met on the way.
She also didn’t face much language problem as she has a reasonably good command over four languages — Russian, Spanish, French and English. “I faced the language problem only in Iran, Pakistan and India, where most of the people don’t speak English,” she says.
Journeying across countries and meeting diverse people, she says she has come to realise that people can understand each other very easily and intimately.
“Governments just create boundaries and differences. People, however, can transcend even these as they can understand each other very well,” she says.
Nishimura has found nature to be very beautiful and has developed more respect for human beings seeing their ability to survive and live under very rigorous environm-ent ranging from dry deserts to high, cold mountains.
Reflecting on her experience, Nishimura says she was shocked to be addressed as “Money!” by some very poor children in Ethiopia. “White skin means money to them,” she states adding that some even tried to get her to give them some money by pelting stones at her. She says that equally poor people of Sudan melted her heart when they offered her “biscuits and tea”.
Nishimura says she will never forget being caught in a sandstorm in Sudan. “I was so sad to catch a train to reach my next destination. I’d planned to make it on my bike,” she says.
When talk veers to Nepal, she says has become very fond of the children calling her “Didi”, and the nature of Nepalis, who she says are gifted with a charming smile.
Kathmandu’s offering of various delicious cuisines has also impressed her. And the New Year’s sunrise at Nagarkot didn’t fail to captivate her. And she says “Namaste” to all who have helped her overcome difficulties in Nepal.
“You can do it, because I did it,” Nishimura assures those wishing to undertake a similar journey adding, “It is easier than you think!”
It is difficult to go by yourself and also bag the aegis of good sponsors, “but what you need is to be yourself, and just move ahead”.
And to this gutsy lady who had ridden her 250cc Suzuki Djebel across the world, and who loves photography and meeting people, we echo “just keep moving ahead”.