By Tenzin Tsering
Lhakpa sets on his world tour in March, 2010/file
Dharamsala, September 20: A Tibetan man from USA, on a world bike tour for Tibet since March this year, faces the uncertainty of reaching his destination, Dharamsala, after his bike was impounded by the custom authorities at Chennai, India.
Lhakpa Tsering, a Tibetan immigrant who worked as a houseman and butler for a living, started his Free Tibet World tour from the United Nations Office in New York City on March 10 this year to coincide with the 51st Tibetan national uprising day. Since then, Lhakpa travelled around the world, passing through 22 countries, on his motorcycle for more than 7 months, creating awareness about Tibet and garnering support.
Lhakpa planned to conclude his tour at Dharamsala, the headquarters of the exile Tibetan government, next month. His plans have, however, been hampered after custom authorities in Chennai seized his bike, a BMW motorcycle, after his arrival in India on Wednesday, and have since refused to release the bike to its owner.
“I am having huge problem with my documents. They won’t release my motorcycle,” Lhakpa said. “I will use all my resource, and I will try my best not to leave India until I finish my tour,” the determined biker added.
Before reaching India, Lhakpa’s bike tour took him through Canada, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, England, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Japan and Australia, among others.
On March 10, 2008, when widespread uprisings broke out in Tibet against the Chinese Communist rule, Lhakpa was in New York with his seven-year old daughter and wife.
“I felt then that I have to keep the Tibetan cause going,” said Lhakpa.
He recalled how as a student in the Tibetan Children’s Village, he had resolved to travel across continents on a motorcycle like many foreigners do; only his would be aimed at educating people around the world about Tibet and the Tibetan cause, not merely to have fun.
On March 2009, after deciding to embark upon his Free Tibet World tour, Lhakpa bought the “extremely expensive” $21,000 bike with his savings. “I decided that for the Tibetan cause I can spend my money. I never bought anything truly expensive before,” he reasoned.
When Lhakpa launched his tour-related website -- www.freetibetworldtour.com -- it did not take too long for China to notice. Despite “Free Tibet” words being censored in China, there have been 22 log-ins from China, Lhakpa said.
“I know that the Chinese officials are watching what I am doing, and that makes me think I am doing the right thing for Tibet,” Lhakpa wrote on his website.
Travelling across the world, Lhakpa has been greeted by Tibetan communities at every stop, and has been speaking at a diverse group of gatherings about Tibet.
“There were Chinese women who listened to my speech and thanked me for what I am doing for the Tibetan cause,” Lhakpa said. “One of them told me that she understands and knows what was and is going on in Tibet. She said she is sorry for what is happening in Tibet,” he added.
Lhakpa will begin his last leg of the world tour from Chennai to Dharamsala as soon as the Indian customs officials release his bike.