'I don't think I'll be going anywhere for a while'

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 12:00am


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He cycled for three years from the remotest parts of Siberia to London. He's just finished walking six and a half months through Mongolia and China to Hong Kong for charity. Now it's time for a rest.

'I don't think I'll be going anywhere now for a while,' said Hong Kong adventurer Rob Lilwall after completing the last few kilometres of his journey yesterday with supporters and wife Christine to the couple's home in Mui Wo, Lantau.

It was a poignant end to a 5,000 kilometre expedition he called Walking Home From Mongolia.

The 35-year-old was accompanied by Leon McCarron, from Northern Ireland, who filmed his exploits for a National Geographic programme to be shown later this year.

Parts of the trek were gruelling, Lilwall says, with the pair having to battle the elements and, at times, erratic cars as they traversed China's busy highways.

'That was the only danger we faced from humans,' he said. '[The] Chinese are pretty crazy drivers.'

About a month into the trip, Lilwall injured his foot.

'I thought I wouldn't be able to continue,' Lilwall said. 'But I limped on, took a bit of time off and somehow it gradually got better as I kept on going. It was the low point but we got through it.'

Early in their journey, Lilwall and McCarron also had to endure the bitter cold.

'On just our third day it snowed and the temperature dropped to minus 30 degrees Celsius. We were camping out in those conditions and just trying to survive,' Lilwall said.

'Two weeks later we crossed into China where we spent the vast majority of our trip. I spoke only fledgling Mandarin when I arrived but thanks to this journey it has gradually improved.'

The British-born adventurer says there were many high points that carried them through their journey, particularly the kindness and hospitality of strangers.

'On Chinese New Year we were walking into a town by the Yellow River when this guy just walked up and invited us into his house to have dinner with his family,' Lilwall said. 'We were shown friendliness and kindness all the time.'

Throughout their trek through one of Asia's largest landlocked nations, Lilwall says they never felt in danger at any point. Even when they were going through very remote communities, the people only wanted to help them.

The 'amazing' landscapes were also a highlight of the trip.

The transnational trek has so far raised HK$400,000 for children's charity Viva, of which Lilwall and his wife are directors.

This is not the first time the adventurer has achieved such a feat. His previous expedition, Cycling Home From Siberia, became the subject of a television series, a book and motivational talks.

'Cycling Home From Siberia was a hugely life-changing experience for me because I gave up my job as a geography teacher in England and flew to northeast Russia,' he said. 'It took me three years to get back to London, and when I did, I met my wife Christine.'

Lilwall moved to Hong Kong with her a year and a half ago after they got married in London.

He was able to keep in contact with his wife by mobile phone throughout the trip, and she also met up with him every six weeks.

'It was still really hard for us, but we were able to stay in touch,' he said.

For more insight on Lilwall's adventure, read Health Post on Tuesday or visit www.walkinghomefrommongolia.com.