Hongkonger from Sweden gets ready for tough overland motorbike trip back home to help a charity

Mikael Lui Svenungsson wants to raise HK$445,000 to assist a village for orphans and neglected children in Cambodia; he is about HK$50,000 short of his target

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 July, 2017, 6:28pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 July, 2017, 10:42pm

Imagine spending almost 100 days on a motorbike crossing more than a dozen countries with erratic GPS coordinates, paper maps and a tent on your back.

The coming three months for Mikael Lui Svenungsson, 53, a Swedish resident living in Hong Kong, will be like that. He is getting ready to set off on Tuesday on a motorbike trip between the city and Sweden. But it won’t be just another journey.

The adventure named “Pops & Frog”, which also involves Svenungsson’s 27-year-old son, aims to raise funds for the SOS Children’s Village in Cambodia, a project that helps orphans and neglected children.

They have so far collected about HK$390,000 – mostly from Hong Kong donors – but their goal is HK$445,000.

Svenungsson, who previously did charity work in Ethiopia, decided to support an organisation operating in Asia because it is where he has lived over the past seven years.

“At first I contacted charities in Nepal, but because of the [2015] earthquake they got media attention and were pretty well funded. So the problems are where there is little media coverage,” he said.

After extensive research, he found a project in Cambodia that seemed particularly meaningful.

“They help children from an early age until they finish university. I thought that was pretty unique,” said Svenungsson, who visited the project in January.

The trip, which will include a stop in Cambodia, took about 18 months to prepare – from paperwork to finding sponsors.

“I went on motorbike trips before, but not as complex as this one because it requires a lot of paperwork,” he said, noting that the obstacles were greater because they are using foreign plates.

However, his problems did not end there. “I’ve got all my permits now, but my son has a fever in London so I am not sure when he will be able to join,” Svenungsson said.

To arrive in Sweden on his target date of October 1, father and son will have to drive 300km every day, six days a week.

“The challenge will be to keep the motorbike in good condition, because if it breaks down you might lose one or two days ... I am bringing many spare parts, but I am not very good at engineering,” he said, laughing. “And, of course, having an accident and injuring ourselves is another concern,” Svenungsson said.

He predicts that some bits of the journey will be particularly risky. “It’s rainy season in Laos, so it will be like driving in chocolate mousse. The traffic in India is also problematic and the roads in Nepal are quite dangerous,” he said.

Despite all this, Svenungsson, who works as a designer at a project management company in the retail trade, said he would not exchange his Triumph motorbike for a comfortable car. “You are part of the experience on a motorbike and you feel everything, the sun, the rain and people talk to you,” he said.

He plans to keep an online journal and film as much as he can. He might then write a book based on the journey.

While he collects money for a good cause and visits countries he has never been to, Svenungsson has a bigger ambition in mind. “I want to spread the idea that you can do something, whatever that is, save turtles, take care of a stray dog, do some charity work.”