By TOM LAVENTURE
AAP staff writer
MINNEAPOLIS (April 17, 2010) – Lhakpa Tsering has had a rough life and now that everything is going his way, he has not given up on his lifelong dream of bringing the cause of Tibetan freedom to the world in his own way – an around-the-world motorcycle trip – one community at a time over 22-countries.
Now living in New York, where he has a good job, a wife and young daughter, Tsering put it all on hold to take his BMW 1200GS Adventure, the bike designed for extremely long journeys, complete with Tibetan flag and a spirit without depth that has inspired countless individuals and communities not to give up on the cause of freedom in Tibet.
Tsering made left New York on March 10, 2010, Tibetan Uprising Day, and made his way to Philadelphia, Washington, North Carolina, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, New Mexico, Colorado, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, San Diego, LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, British Columbia, Calgary, and to Minneapolis last Saturday, where he spoke to a group at the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, and was treated to dinner by the Tibetan Youth Congress at Gangchen Restaurant in Minneapolis.
“All of the community leaders came in and there were a lot of young people who listened to him, and it was very inspiring,” said Jigme Ugen, president, TYC Minnesota, who said this grass roots approach resonated with a heroic quality.
“The motorcycle presented something new and different,” Ugen added. “He is supporting himseld and is funding this out of his own expenses. We did a little fundraising to help him complete his trip with gas and expenses.”
“He is not doing this for himself, he is doing this for the cause and doing something to bring the attention of the world on those that are suffering in Tibet,” said Lobsong Tenzin of Minnetonka.
Tsering reflected on his life as though it all added up to this moment. He told of his parents who struggled in Tibet following the 1959 Chinese invasion, and their escape to India with six children in 1967, where he was born shortly after.
His mother died shortly after childbirth and father was unable to care for the children and gave them to orphanages. As a child he recalled meeting a journeying motorcyclist and his notoriety inspired him to dream up a similar trip to tell the world of the fate of Tibetans in their own homeland.
“Living in India it was impossible financially to do anything,” said Tsering.
He immigrated to the United States in 1995, and a year later joined the Peace March to Washington, and again in 1998 from Portland to Washington.
At the time he said it was surprising how many American Buddhists were not aware of the situation in Tibet, and he began speaking openly on the topic. When he met his wife in 2001, he said the motorcycle project was an ambition he would need to complete someday and said she agreed.
It was the 2008 demonstrations in Tibet that inspired Tsering to do the trip now. He said that a generation of Tibetans that has only known Chinese rule is still willing to risk their lives and freedom to speak in favor of independence and the return of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
“I live in a free country and I can speak up for them because they don’t have any voice,” said Tsering. “So I told my wife that I want to do this project in 2010.”
Tsering drove off to meet a community in Madison, then to Chicago, and back up to Canada to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Barrington. Then he will go to Boston, Connecticut and return to New York to ship his bike off to Frankfurt, Germany on May 7, to begin the European leg.
His new bike had zero miles at the start and had about 9,000 in Minneapolis. He expects it will top 45,000 miles at trips end.
From Frankfurt, Tsering said he will travel all over Europe and wind Helsinki, Finland, where he will ship the bike to South Korea, and then to Japan and Taiwan. If money permits he will continue on to Australia and New Zealand, and from there to South India, where he said many Tibetans now live under the Tibetan resettlement project. He will ride on to Mumbai and Delhi and plans to arrive in Diramsala – home to the Tibetan government in exile – on October 23, 2010.
He is encouraging communities to talk to their leaders and express their will that they support Tibetan independence. He said the Chinese people now have access to world media through the Internet, and that they can learn the truth about Tibet outside of official propaganda. He said the Chinese people are a more powerful force for change in Tibet than outside pressure could bring.
“China is becoming a powerful country and in order to become a powerful country you have to give human rights to your own people,” said Tsering. “You have to negotiate with Tibet and they clearly know that Tibet is not part of China.”
He said that if his trip does anything he would hope that young Tibetans decide to “ride the bike, climb the mountain or any type of project that raises the message.”
Follow the journey online at Freetibetworldtour.com where the route is updated with 3-minute videos and blogs at each stop. There is also a donate button to help him pay for gas.