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Tuesday, January 13, 2015
News: Young cyclist checks in 1 month into his 4 month ride across Egypt
Online follows Egypt's youngest solo cycling adventurer on his 'Egypt on 2
Wheels' tour, highlighting his encounters 1 month into his route.
Bedouin kindness on the road
the 22nd of November, and after extensive preparations, young Egyptian
adventurer Galal Zekri Chatila took off from his secondary school in Cairo,
embarking on his 'Egypt on two Wheels' tour that was to take him around Egypt
in the span of four months on board of his loyal steed Sophia, his bicycle.
a steady speed of 20 km/h, and covering an average of 60km a day, the young
adventurer pedaled his way to the farthest eastern and northern corners of the
country, reaching Taba and Portsaid.
week he is expected to reach until El-Salloum, his most western destination. Chatila
has visited many unique locations which portray the beauty and diversity of
Egyptian landscape, away from the crowded and hectic capital.
this point, Chatila has biked a total of 1,900 km, sometimes covering
additional distance by hitching rides on boats and camels. This marks the end
of more than a quarter of his intended 7,000 km route around Egypt.
is one month into his intended four month route, spanning across nine stages..
From Cairo, his route took him to Ain Sokhna, Zaafarana, Suez, Ismailia, Port
Said, Alexandria, Mansoura, Zagazig, Tanta and Rashid
Hike on camel from Dahab to Abou Galloum
along the way, the cyclist has marvelled at the beauty of the landmarks he has
come across. “A day on the road means fun for me; it must involve good scenery,
and a challenge to overcome so that I feel I have achieved something. I would
rather spend 12 hours riding on a road that unveils Egypt’s natural beauty and
warm people to me, than two hours on a busy road,” says the 21-year old
many places, Chatila would describe to those keeping up with his trip the
landmarks specific to a city or a village. In Mansoura, he described Dar Ibn
Louqman, where Louis IX was jailed for a few months – during French occupation
(1249-1259) – until his wife bailed him out. In Tanta, Galal was mesmerised by
the beauty of the architecture of El-Sayed El-Badawy mosque, which is the
city’s primary landmark. In Dakahlia, he paid his respects to a very small
village near Simbellaween called Tamay, where the late and most famous Egyptian
singer, Umm Kalthoum was born and raised.
the real beauty that was uncovered for the young man as he went through
different places was the continuous support and warm welcoming that everyone
gave. In Zaqaziq, he was welcomed by youth, many of whom are members of ZAG
cycling group, before he was presented with the city’s key by the vice
governor. In Ismailia he was escorted by fellow cyclists for part of his trip.
Reaching Matrouh, on the north coast of Egypt
El-Gouna, Chatila was treated to a complimentary stay and dinner and in Port
Said, Rashid, Sharm El-Sheikh, Ismailia, people made him feel at home. Along
the way to Alexandria, he was greeted by youth from Agami district who showed
deep interest in the details of his trip. Global Biking Initiative members in
Alexandria also celebrated his arrival.
said the individual kindness of people was overwhelming in many places,
describing one such incident in detail: "When I was heading along the road, I
found a motorcycle come up to pass me. I said hello, but he didn't answer and
continued with his bike into the desert. Honestly, I was a bit worried because
I know many people on motorbikes get robbed.”
“Shortly thereafter, I found that
the same mysterious man had returned and was signaling to my wheel which needed
to be fixed. He was extremely helpful and kind. I figured out why he didn't
answer me when I said hello the first time: he is deaf. After he helped me with
fixing the wheel, I invited him to drink juice and eat some sweets dates. I
also learned he's a talented photographer!"