Charity on wheels
In a Sumatran village Morgan Parker and his three travelling companions were looking for a place to spend the night. They ended up in the local tribal chief's home; It had no beds, furniture, electricity or even toilets. The foreigners shared the humble abode with 12 locals - plus myriad creepy creatures roaming about, such as snakes and scorpions.
'We were terrified by stuff crawling around,' Parker tells Young Post over the phone from his home in Brisbane, Australia. 'We had four men lying side by side in a small room, arm in arm, with our eyes open the whole night, poking around and looking out for stuff like scorpions that crawled across the floor, while a snake was outside.'
That was just life on the road. Parker, who turns 37 today, set off on the expedition from Hong Kong on March 1, 2011, to raise money for 10 grassroots charities while travelling by motorcycle - much of it solo - across 25,000km. He passed through Hong Kong and China, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor and finished his trip in Australia on July 4.
So far his efforts have raised about HK$1.8 million for Wheel2Wheel (W2W), a not-for-profit organisation he founded in 2009. It will share the money between the 10 charities based in each of the countries visited during the trip.
Parker, who lived in Hong Kong for six and a half years, still considers it his home. He quit a well-paid finance job in 2009 to focus on W2W.
He is still full of excitement about the trip. 'It was quite a surreal feeling, but sublime and thrilling. It was kind of hard after being on the road for 125 days - much of which was alone. But certainly I wasn't tired, and I wasn't ready to stop.'
He says he set up the charity 'to get more strategic about my philanthropy', while - at the same time -having fun. And fun he certainly had.
During his journey he was welcomed by Vietnam's minister of transport. In East Timor he met President Jos? Ramos-Horta. Children cheered him as he passed through remote villages, while, in China, he drank snake's blood.
'I think we have become guilty of being overly focused on our careers,' he says. 'Young people care only about making money. That's a mistake.'
He hopes to encourage people to go out and help others. 'The rewards I get from helping others are greater than anything I've ever experienced in my career,' he says.
He is already planning Wheel2Wheel II, which will feature a motorcycle expedition in India.
Parker will be at The Space, in Sheung Wan, on August 23 to talk about his expedition and forthcoming Wheel2Wheel television series