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Cardoso’s story is both amusing and engaging

Portugal to China via half the world How a man is returning a stolen bicycle to its ownerImage source: Alma Lusa - Volta ao Mundo em bicicleta/Facebook
Features Travel Thursday, August 27, 2015 - 19:54

It’s been two weeks since Hernani Cardoso arrived in Kerala. The 54-year-old retired air force policeman from Portugal has been touring the state, right from its pristine beaches to its stunning back waters, all on a bicycle. 

But the man is not just another tourist. He is on a mission to return the bicycle he is riding to the person it belongs to, who happens to live in China. Cardoso’s story is both amusing and engaging.

In 2012, Eric Feng from China was travelling in Portugal on his bicycle. When his bike got stolen, he contacted Cardoso through Warm showers, a local community. The Portuguese man asked him to file a complaint with the police which Feng did and soon left for China.

Several months later, Cardoso got news that the stolen bicycle was found and he decided to return it to Feng. Only, instead of the more conventional way of shipping it, Cardoso thought of delivering the bike to Feng personally- by riding it from Portugal to China. And he decided that on his way he’d to visit places which had a shared history and culture with Portugal. 

On May 20, 2014, Cardoso set off from his country after selling all his personal belongings including his house and car. 

“The cycle weighs 20 kg and Cardoso carries an additional 30 kg of luggage including bags and clothes and stove.”

He however is in no hurry to return “home”. “I have not set any time frame. I am doing things at my own pace. I may stay around for a day or extend it to four if I like it. The idea is to go around for at least 6-7 years," Cardoso says speaking to The News Minute.

In the over one year that he has been globe-trotting, he says has been to numerous places including, Spain, Morocco, France, Tunisia, Italy, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Israel, Emirates, Iran, Bahrain, Oman, Sri Lanka and Maldives. 

“It is not easy. It is just a different way of travelling. I travel slowly, I meet lots of people. It is unlike getting on and off a flight,” he says.

Born in Portugal, but brought up in Angola in Africa, he remembers bicycling during his growing up years. When he got divorced at 38, he got himself a new bicycle and started touring. In 2009, in what he calls it his first big tour outside Portugal, he travelled from Austria to Bulgaria on his bicycle.  

The pension he receives every month along with his savings is helping him continue his journey.

Most of his experiences have been good till now, except one which he says resulted because of his own fault. When he was in Iran, one of his bags got stolen. "I kept it outside my tent while camping,” he says.

 

 

As for his experience in God’s own country, Cardoso feels “Kerala is wonderful. The people are very good here,” he gushes. “I am not telling you this because you are Indian,” he quips the very next moment.

He plans to travel along the Indian coast next before he crosses the breadth of the country and exits via Bangladesh. He will then traverse other south Asian countries followed by Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Brazil. In between when he stops in China, he will return the bike to Feng and get himself a new one. 

 

 

Currently camped at Fort Kochi, Cardoso is soaking up the culture around the place. He makes it a point to eat what the locals do. “I love the fish here, and how they serve food in banana leaves. But the food is very spicy here.”

"I tried eating with my fingers once. Didn't work out quite well," he chuckles as he signs off.  

 

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