Travel To Grow

Understanding The World Through Travel

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Apr '11

Talking to Travelers #3


Recently Jen and I have opened up our home to couch surfers.

Couch-surfing is a worldwide network of travelers who open up their homes for (or sometimes just meet for a drink) with other travelers. If you haven’t seen it before you should check it out!

We’ve had some great people stay with us, and one particularly interesting one was a Chinese man named Marvin whos stop at our place was part of his year long bike trip around China!

Marvin’s been on the road for over 5 months now, and has tons of great experiences around China. He gave me the pleasure of giving him this interview for this talking to travelers series:

Marvin and his bike

Why did you decide to embark on this year long bike journey?

In fact, at the beginning I was the type to follow the common Chinese life style. I was more reserved and not so outgoing. However in college I started to listen to rock music on the  radio, then once I heard <Where did you sleep last night> by Nirvana, I started to change. I also had some friends who loved art and shared the same interests with me. We often talked about travel and the western music. So it started from music, then I gradually got to know about other aspects, which guided me in knowing what kind of life I wanted.

So after graduation, I left my hometown, and worked in Dalian for a year. At that time, I provided couch surfing for others many times. I heard their stories and experience, so it inspired me to get out there and look around for myself. Later I started to try many different jobs in different cities which began my travels.

Making it to Lasa (The Capital City of Tibet) has always been my dream. At the beginning I planned to travel there by bus. But the expenses are very high. So instead I found another way to travel there— by riding my bicycle.  My habit is that when I have an idea, I will act on it, and let the experience of trying teach me how. I found that sometimes when we think too hard about something, in the end we will talk ourselves out of it. It’s better just to act on our inspired ideas.

On the way I learned lots of things that I never had chance to learn before. It was more interesting than living in the city. But I also think about my parents when I travel for such a long time, so I decided that I will take a 1 year long trip, then after that, I will make money and help to give my family a better quality life. After that, I will travel again.

To save money, I try to stay with couch surfers. When I find locals willing to help, I can not only make lots of friends, but can also learn more about local cultures and customs.


What has been the most rewarding or interesting part of your trip so far?

On the way, I met man different people, experienced man different things and shared many different ideas. I see it as a kind of study. Also, I have enough time to think about it all on the way. The whole couch surfing experience really makes my trip rewarding.


How has this trip changed you as a person?

1. Help

Every day is new and new problems always arise. However sometimes I find strangers willing to help me. I feel grateful for this so I try to give a hand to others when they need it as well.
2. Perspective.

I’ve learned that in this world, there are many more good people than bad people. Chinese education always teaches us that bad people are everywhere. However if you experience the world for yourself, you will know the truth.

3. Communication.

On the way I have met so many people that helped me. So it’s been necessary to learn how to communicate in a proper way, because couch surfing is not merely living in hotels.

4. Less complaining.

Rather than complaining, it is better to save energy for the trip!


What has been the hardest part of your trip so far?


This loneliness is not only about being alone during the journey but really the hardest part is that no many people can support and understand it. Therefore I have to become stronger without caring about other people’s opinions.
I am the owner of my life. I am the leader. So only I can feel and understand. Others are just the audience.


How has this trip changed your perspectives?

I’ve learned to appreciate, and learned to understand.

Some philosophies I’ve discovered while biking that can be applied to life follow:

“The harder it is to reach the top of the hill, the more you can relax as you coast down it. But please be careful about your speed.

When you are going downhill or uphill, you can not relax. But when you face these hills, it will challenge your limitations.

You will never know what is behind the next turn, the only way to know is to go forward and check.

When things get rough, hold on for one more second… you will see the first rays of sunrise.

Never mind what people will say, only your can feel your experiences, so only you have the right to say judge them.

There is always something that triggers the pieces of your memory.

Life is like the accelerator, you can set the speed of the ride.

We run to chase the setting sun, while only a little heat remains. Although we know that this little heat is not hot enough to warm our body, but just a little light can ignite our hearts when the darkness comes.

If you don’t love yourself, don’t expect others love you.

What you want is always more than what you achieve.

Taking picture is nothing to do with the camera. The key is if your eyes know how to catch beauty. This pair of eyes is in your heart.

Time is the best truth. So close your eyes and judge with your mind.

If you smile to the mirror, the mirror will smile to you.

When you watch the view from far, you see the mountains are there, the scenery is there. When you go closer you see, the mountain is still there but greater. When you go too close, you wonder where is the mountain?

It is the same with love.”


Tell us about your favorite moment from your trip so far.

Everyday when I arrive at new destinations, they are all my best moments.

Chatting, cooking and parting with couch surfers and sharing my stories and pictures with my friends.

Thanks for the great interview Marvin! We can all learn from the philosophies you have discovered during your travels. We wish you the best of luck continuing your journey to Tibet!


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