An intrepid Leamington student will be taking on an epic 10,000-mile drive across Europe and Asia with his friend, two years after they cycled all the way from Beijing to Tehran.
William Hsu, a former Arnold Lodge pupil who studies international development and economics at Bath University, will be driving from London all the way to Yiwu in eastern China along with his good friend Charles Stevens in ‘The New Silk Road project’. They will also be joined by their friend Tom Micklethwait for part of the journey.
William admitted to being a little nervous before the journey. He has only been driving for two years, while Charles only earned his licence last October.
William said: “It’s definitely a very long way - a lot can go wrong. But I think the fact we’ve had experience in doing a long journey before will help us.
“Being in a car is substantially different to cycling - you can travel a lot further in a much shorter amount of time, and we’re going to get the opportunity to see things and got to places we wouldn’t have been able to before. It allows us to be a lot more flexible.”
And Charles added: “We’ll be away from home for a long time. I’ll miss my dog and everything else. But our time at university is coming to an end and we wanted to take advantage of it.”
The pair decided to take on the challenge to raise awareness of China’s new Belt Road Initiative - a multi trillion-dollar project aiming to create a new road-based trade route linking the east and the west.
Will also said the Beijing to Tehran cycle ride along ancient Silk Road routes which he completed with Charles in 2016 got him very interested in the history and the cultures of the area.
He added: “We found out about the New Silk Road and got quite interested in it. When I realised how important it’s becoming I think that’s when I thought it was really worth looking into.
“It’s one of the biggest and most interesting initiatives I can think of.”
William admitted to having caught the bug for adventuring after his cycle challenge two years ago.
He said: “We’re definitely guilty of that. I’ve gone away on a trip and towards the end you’re looking forward to going home.
“But you only enjoy it for two weeks or a month and then you want to go away again."
The journey will start in London on Friday June 1, and will continue through 20 countries before the final destination is reached.
The European part of their drive will take Will and Charles through the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria before they enter Asia through Turkey.
They will then drive through the Caucasus region passing through Georgia and Azerbaijan before reaching Iran. They then drive north into Turkmenistan and east through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan before entering western China.
They aim to arrive in Yiwu at the end of July.