Ex-tycoon embarks on 20,000km bike trip for charity
Monkey hunting an inhumanTravel companies threatened with closure over bear bile tours Source: http://english.vietnamnet.vn Travel companies threatened with closure over bear bile toursS
Date: 21 March 2011
After a long day of waiting, in the late afternoon on March 9, we finally caught sight of a big man riding a huge motorcycle towards the Bear Rescue Center in Tam Dao near Hanoi.
As he hopped off, Morgan Packer joked that many people have crossed forests along the Vietnam – China border by motorcycle but he may have been the first to do so legally.
Thousands of people have been closely watching his charitable bike journey on Youtube and Facebook.
Though he has been to Vietnam many times before, this trip gives him a strangely warm feeling. When he was in Ha Long, a tourist gave him US$20 note upon learning about his trip to raise money for 10 charity organizations, including environment preserving ones.
He spends the night at Tam Dao and plans to see the rescued bears early next morning.
Packer got to know about the Tam Dao Bear Rescue Center, which now takes care of 71 animals transferred from bear farms or rescued from traders, when he read about Animals Asia Foundation’s efforts to rescue bears kept illegally in bile farms in Vietnam and China.
He hopes by visiting this center he can draw worldwide attention to bear preservation and reduce the use of products from bears.
He donates $5,000 to the Center for the establishment of a Bear Preservation Education Center.
He planned this journey five years ago and it took him two years to choose the 10 stops. Besides the Tam Dao Bear Rescue Center, Morgan has also visited the Clean Air Network in Hong Kong and Gecko, which specializes in environmental education for kids, in China.
From Vietnam he will go to Laos to make donations to Child’s Dream to build schools, and then head to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Timor Leste before returning home.
He has managed to raise $100,000 for the organizations six months before the start of his visit. He hopes to be able to raise $500,000 by the end of the journey.
Volunteers from Wheel2Wheel organization will fly to each of his stops to film the activities of the charity organizations he visits and it will be broadcast as a 10-episode documentary on National Geographic Channel.
For someone who learnt to ride a motorcycle only four years ago, the 20,000-kilometer journey in 100 days was a great challenge, especially in dangerous mountainous areas. He trained in counter-terrorism, fighting techniques, and motorcycle repair.
His BMW F800GS bike is designed to travel long distances.
After his Laos visit, Packer will fly back to central Vietnam in April to enjoy the place.
Two years ago Packer quit his lucrative investment banking career to establish a charity organization called Wheel2Wheel. Having working in Asia for 15 years, he has witnessed the miseries of people in underdeveloped countries.
He himself had a miserable life after his father left his mother for another woman when he was 13. His sister, then 19, is now 42 and has not spoken a single word to their father since.
He is divorced and has a daughter, Aria. He asked his ex-wife to live with him so that his daughter can have a good upbringing. Once, when they were on a trip to Thailand, he asked Aria if she wanted orange juice or apple juice. His ex-wife said immediately: “Aria can't have apple juice.” Packer was embarrassed for not knowing his daughter well and also understood she needed her mother.
He is eager to talk about his eight-year-old daughter. Soon after he arrived in Vietnam, Aria flew into Hanoi from Hong Kong to see him, and attended most of his activities in Vietnam.
Asked why he exchanged a multi-million-dollar career for charity, he says: “Most people think earning a lot of money means success. But it actually makes your life become shallow. If you just want more and more money, you became narrow in your thinking and start to miss out what the world is really about. I want to have more dimensions in my life.”