Hello world! I have emerged from my thesis writing den to share a really neat project that is pedaling through Japan right now. It’s called I Believe That Dreams Can Come True, and it is the brainchild of Val and Tay, two girls from Singapore who are riding around the world, collecting dreams. Apparently they stumbled into my friend’s restaurant, became fast friends, and their project was introduced to me via the interwebs. I haven’t had the chance to meet them in person yet (I am a thesis hermit), but I had them answer a few questions through email. It’s a very interesting and inspirational project; apparently Tal learned to ride a bike for this.
Jess – What is the I believe dreams can come true project all about?
It is a community project borned with the intentions to
- Spread the belief that dreams can come true
- Share stories of people’s personal dreams
- Inspire dreams
And with this project, we hope for “One Dream Shared, One Dream inspired“ – with every dream that is shared on the website, somewhere out there in another part of the world, another is inspired.
Jess – How does riding bikes fit in to the project?
We initially decide to cycle because the first dream we were going to document was that of an old Taiwanese Uncle. Trains are his passion from young. At the age of 65, his last dream in life is to cycle to all 273 train stations in Taiwan and take a photo to remind of his glorious days at each of the train stations. Uncle has lived his life pursuing his dreams, one after another, even at the age of 65, his eyes sparkled while talking about his next dream. We were touched by this fire, this passion, this innocence, this simplicity to live a life driven by dreams. And because, his enthusiasm touched a deeper part of our hearts, Val volunteered to go on the round-Taiwan cycling trip with him. Because of this promise, “I Believe That Dreams Can Come True; Around The World; On Our Bicycles” was born. In a romantic way of expression, we wanted to cycle as a symbolic way to pass on Uncle’s spirit of living his dreams from one country to another, from one person to another. On a practical note, it is the cheapest mode of transport and it allows us to travel at the pace we want to and stop wherever we want to, gone with adhering to the bus & train schedules.
Even though Val had quite a tough time learning and getting over her fear for the bicycle, our bicycles (Stylo & Mylo) have served us well.
For Japan, we have decided to gear our activities towards the children of Japan. Firstly because we have a soft spot for children, secondly and more importantly, we observed that many Japanese, especially in Tokyo lived a well-conditioned life that resolves around their work. We wondered what their dreams are? And we thought: what if we can start with the children, who are still innocent. What if we can let them know, it is alright to dream, to dream big, to dream what the heart truly desires? What if we can let them feel the joy of living a dream? What will their future be like then? With the hope of sowing seeds to empower the children of Japan to dream, to encourage them to do the things they truly love, to help them believe that we can all be someone greater, we decided to work with the children of Japan. And the plan is let Japanese tell their children what it is like to dream. We have sent out mailers to ask Japanese from all over Japan to send us a message, a drawing, a present they would like to give to their children. At the same time, we are cycling onto the streets, to significant spots in Tokyo to collect drawings from people. We will be producing a film at the end of submission based on the drawings we have collected to be given to all children-related organizations for education purposes.
Please see details about Project Japan: www.ibelievethatdreamscancometrue.com/japan
Taiwan – very ‘long distance cycling’ friendly, i.e. if you are doing a round-island cycling trip or if you are like us, cycling around the world carrying panniers on your bicycles, you will be greeted by strangers zooming past in their cars, scooters who would shout out from across the road to you: “Jia You!” which means “Gambateh!” We made many friends just by carrying our panniers around. Once, a couple stopped their car in the middle of the road whilst we were cycling along the road to tell us our seats are too low. They even showed us there and then how which seat position will make cycling more energy efficient. So, in Taiwan, we never felt alone when we are cycling.
Japan – so far the experience has been comfortable. By comfortable, I mean lifestyle cycling is way of life for the Japanese: to ferry their kids to school, to buy groceries, to cycle in schools, policemen patrol in bicycles, etc. And because of that, we feel like part of the community as we zoom down the streets with the other cyclists. And we like the fact that we can park our bikes anywhere, walk around, come back and know that our bikes will still be there! And as we are typing, we are now finding ways and means to make our bikes stand out in the crowd and look different so that people will come talk to us for us to collect drawings since we do not speak Japanese!
If it is about biking you are asking, then here’s we are at with regards to cycling:
Val has journeyed from learning how to cycle circles in a tiny park in Singapore, to mastering cycling on the busy roads in Taiwan with scooters who would try to squeeze into any tiny space in between any vehicles possible and monster buses who shows no mercy cutting into the path of bicycles, to outlasting her own oxygen limits by cycling up never-ending slopes along the Eastern Coast in Taiwan on a foldie as tiny as she is. These learnings have been very adventurous!
Tay is trying to come from “We are not going to be able to accomplish this without a better, larger hybrid bike” to “Mylo is going to complete this round-the-world journey no matter what other people say”. She has come to accept our little foldie as our companions. She is now trying to master riding with her left hand so that she can hold the video camera with the right whilst cycling.
If you are asking about special adventures on our journey. We will need to write a book to finish talking about them, even though we are only at our 2nd country! Cycling has allowed us to meet many interesting people along the way and walk into their lives to share a very personal/ private bit of their lives with us. Each of them is a special adventure: The retired train master who has to postponed his dreams because his mum passed away, the poet we met one night in a little town in Taiwan, the class of students who told us they do not have dreams, the old couple who cooked us a whole table full of food, dessert and supper, the English teacher who host us because she wants to bring the world into her classroom, the special needs students who gave us a hair wash cum massage and sang us a song, the teachers who rekindled their passion for teaching, the owners of a B&B who makes delicious and healthy breakfast, the couple who runs a home stay that they built on their own, the Japanese family who treats us like their own children and provides us two meals a day, etc. Its an endless list. We have been asked many times what has been special and memorable so far, our answer has always been: the people. Its the people that we meet, the exchanges and sharings that we had, that made every single moment of this journey beautiful and every single sight worth remembering.
Live your dream.
Good luck girls!