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Retired Taiwanese cycles through South, Southeast Asia helping needy

2018/01/13 16:38:45

New Delhi, Jan. 13 (CNA) A Taiwanese retiree who is cycling his way through six South and Southeast Asian countries has won the hearts of locals along the way through his volunteer work.

At 67-years old, Albert Chen (陳敏先) is living proof that life can be rewarding after retirement or a fight with cancer.

The retired teacher was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 56, and now, after treatment, has decided to devote his life to cycling around the world and engaging in volunteer work wherever he goes.

Chen embarked on his latest journey, a 106-day trip through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, India and Sri Lanka, in October last year.

Having cycled through the first four countries, Chen is now in India where, as a devout Catholic, he is volunteering with local Catholic organizations.

Chen said he has always wanted to volunteer at Kalighat Home for the Dying in Kolkata, India, a hospice established by Mother Teresa in 1952.

He spent five days working there, which he said gave him a profound understanding of the dignity and value of life.

Following his time in Kolkata, Chen traveled to Varanasi, a major religious hub in India, where he visited the Ganges River, traditionally a sacred burial site for Indians.

On his bike, with about 20 kilograms of personal possession, Chen then traveled all the way to New Delhi.

Chen recounted the hospitality and help he has received throughout his journey as he adapted to the local environment, saying he used simple Hindi words he picked up, such as "namaste" (hello) and "dhanyavad" (thank you), to interact with locals.

On Saturday, Chen is making his way to Chennai, where he will volunteer at a Catholic organization.

His stay in Chennai will be his last in India before he heads to Sri Lanka to continue his quest to see as much of the world as possible and help those in need.

Chen has previous made similar trips around Taiwan and China.

(By Charles Kang and Kuan-lin Liu)