Pandemic puts brakes on a dream trip to Tokyo

Cliffin Francis, Dona Jacob, and Haseeb Ahsan who are stranded in Tripura after their cycling expedition to Tokyo was cut short by the spread of COVID-19.

Cliffin Francis, Dona Jacob, and Haseeb Ahsan who are stranded in Tripura after their cycling expedition to Tokyo was cut short by the spread of COVID-19.  

Journey of three cyclists from State ends in Tripura following COVID-19 outbreak

Locked up inside a skill development institute at Lembucherra, some 10 km from Agartala in Tripura, three youngsters who had set out on a once-in-a-lifetime journey have a lot to reflect on now that their dream remains shattered.

Cliffin Francis, Dona Jacob, and Haseeb Ahsan from different parts of Kerala but united by the passion of exploring the world had their sights set on Tokyo Olympics when they started biking from Kochi on December 15. They had planned everything, from a detailed route map to the distance to be covered on every single day, to reach Tokyo a day ahead of the Olympics on July 24. Only, they had not foreseen a pandemic outbreak, which poured cold water over their entire plan.

“Having entered Thailand from Myanmar, we should have been pedalling our way to Laos now. Instead, here we are stuck in Tripura for more than a fortnight,” said Cliffin. From Laos they were to pedal to Shanghai and reach Tokyo by cruise.

Things were more or less going according to the plan, except for some time lost in securing visa for China, till they entered Bangladesh last month where no case was reported till then. Then cases started emerging and the youngsters, anticipating a potential lockdown trapping them in a foreign country, crossed back across the border in a hurry.

“We were advised to undergo a 14-day quarantine in Agartala and were taken in an ambulance to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital where we completed the quarantine period on April 2. Since then we have been staying at the skill development institute run by a priest known to Dona and helping him with mask making,” said Cliffin.

With Olympics postponed for a year, the youngsters have called off their journey and are now thinking only about getting back to home. Pedalling the way back is ruled out since that means going through successive quarantines along the way. The idea is to fly back although there is not yet any clarity on how and when the lockdown will be lifted.

“We would love to get back on the road again next year. But a lot of factors would have to be taken care of, from money to convincing families, all over again. So, we would sit down and decide once this is over,” said Cliffin.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 2:40:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/pandemic-puts-brakes-on-a-dream-trip-to-tokyo/article31281376.ece

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