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21/04/2015, Cape Town Argus Newspaper, Story by Emily Huizenga and photography by Willem Law

21/04/2015, Cape Town Argus Newspaper, Story by Emily Huizenga and photography by Willem Law

Date- 21/04/2015. Tuesday. Cape Argus News Paper. Cape Town. South Africa.

Around the world in 16 years on a bicycle

When Somen Debnath talks about his life, he breaks it down in numbers.
It’s been 10 years, eight months, and 21 days since he left his native village of Basanti, in India’s West Bengal state, and set off to visit 191 countries, traversing 200 000km – all on one bicycle.

In 2004, two days after receiving a bachelor’s degree in zoology from the University of Calcutta, Debnath loaded a bike with a bed mat, sleeping bag and tent, and pedalled off to educate young people about the HIV/Aids pandemic, and to share Indian culture with the world.

More than a decade and 117 600km later, 31-year-old Debnath still sleeps on the same mat, but his pack has acquired new treasures – five passports, 97 visas and 4 000 banded and beaded bracelets, symbols of someone journeying with him in spirit.

Debnath’s “Around the World Bicycle Tour for HIV/Aids Awareness Programme and Presentation of Indian Culture” brought him to South Africa little more than two months ago. He’s been in Cape Town for about two weeks, staying at the Shri Siva Aalayam Hindu Temple in Rylands, meeting with mayor Patricia de Lille and MEC for Economic Opportunities Alan Winde, and presenting on HIV/Aids at local institutions.

He’s on to Namibia, Botswana and Angola next, and then South America, riding Chile’s coast down through Patagonia and ferrying across the Southern Sea to Antarctica. He hopes to complete the record-breaking trip in India on May 27, 2020 – exactly 16 years after he left. “If I’m alive,” he said.

Story: Emily Huizenga / Photograph: Willem Law
(Read the full story in today’s Cape Argus or get the app at www.myindependent.co.za)

About Somen Debnath

Dear friends, my name is Somen Debnath. I am a resident of the village of Basanti, Sundarbans, West Bengal, which is a great mangrove forest and the largest tiger reserve in India. My "Around the World Bicycle Tour for HIV/AIDS Awareness Programme & Presentation of Indian Culture" started on 27th of May 2004, two days after I acquired Bachelor degree in Zoology from the University of Calcutta. I have also completed 'Visarad' in Fine Arts from the Sarbabhartiya University. My goal is to cover 191 countries till 2020. I will travel 200.000 km in the whole world and reach nearly 20 million people. 118.000 km I will travel for charity, that's why I'm selling my Km to people. The support I will get from people buying my kilometres will help me fulfill my other dream: to build a Global village in my native place, Basanti, Sundarbans.


  1. You will make it home in 16 years,remeber your prayers and our prayers they blessing..god his with you always…with love and good work be safe..will be looking after you,your not alone…….go well…regards Mohau.

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