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Feature: 24-year-old Chinese to bike from U.S. to China, advocating ecological civilization

By Xue Ying

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- More than two years ago, Zilong Wang biked alone 3,400 miles (5,472 kilometers) from Massachusetts to California for a job in a sustainability consulting company. Now he quit the job and is preparing for a long solo cycling journey again -- this time, toward the East and for advocating ecological civilization.

On the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year which falls on Feb. 8, the 24-year-old man made a wish -- bicycling from San Francisco Bay Area, heading eastward, via the continental U.S. and Eurasia, back to China.

He called it a "pilgrimage." Through the journey, he wants to explore the ecological and spiritual awakening in the 21st century and the cultural landscape and the political economy of the global village, through the lens of China's interconnectedness with the world.

Wang went to the Hampshire College in Massachusetts in 2009. In an interview with Xinhua, he said that he learned and was inspired by the sustainability thinking while in the college.

He got a job in California right after graduation in the summer of 2013 and soon packed his bike and a small trailer, heading west under the hot summer sun.

It took him 75 days to get to San Francisco. Mosquitoes, storms, winds, humidity, heat, sit bone pain ... nothing blocked him from reaching his goal. And he successfully got dozens of families allowing him to camp in their backyard during nights -- after knocking at the doors of over 400 strangers' houses.

"I come as a stranger to you; but in the morning, I leave as your friend," Wang wrote in his blog.

"About one fifth of the families who I knocked their doors did not turn me away. They also allowed me to use their shower and WiFi, and some fed me with hot food," Wang told Xinhua.

"I never locked my bicycle. I left it outside when I went to stores and every time I came back, it was still there, though a homeless 'stole' it after I arrived in San Francisco. But it was returned later."

"My experience proved that there are so many good people in the world, and not so many bad guys," Wang smiled.

Wang was born in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in northern China, and the family moved to live in Shanghai. He studied Christian, Buddhism, Islam, Mormon and other religions but he said what he believes is the Nature.

A four-week trip in China last year changed his view for his mother country. He said what he saw during the trip made him believe that an ecological and spiritual awakening in the country is happening.

"There is the China we hear about in the news: largest economy in the world; lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and into urban areas; largest CO2 emitter; entrenched corruption; toxic air; poisoned food and water; growing disparity; political uncertainties; global expansion and entanglement..."

"Yes, that's perhaps all true. But, on my trip across the country, I saw a different China - different from my impression just a year ago, and different from what I thought I knew," said the young man who speaks fluent English.

During visits to temples, eco-villages among other places and discussions with Chinese people, "I saw countless people and groups doing their small and inspiring parts. Many of them do not know each other. But they are essentially doing the same work': being the change they want to see in the world."

"Perhaps, we are moving up (Abraham) Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Perhaps, the environmental and moral degradations have become too much to bear. But for whatever reason, I know for sure that the clock has struck: ours is a time for ecological and spiritual awakening."

Talking about some people's doubts that an ecological civilization future will come, Wang said "The imagination of human always has its limitation. I know it will come but I don't know how it will. We have to realize it one step after another."

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