Because Daung Sunim has no advance team or sweep vehicles to transport his gear, he will be setting up his own camp most nights of his 30,000 kilometer bicycle trip around North America after biking about 100 kilometers a day, (that’s 62 miles). Set up doesn’t take too long however since he doesn’t have a lot of spare room on his bike for frivolities like camping gear.
Sunim, a 42-year old Korean monk who belongs to a city temple in Soeul, is finding his 2-year trip to be a means of connecting with other human beings he would otherwise never meet. As he is traveling, he is constantly forging new friendships and experiencing the kindness of the human race. Of his trip, Sunim says, “my pilgrimage is not only my path, but also a journey to connect with the lives of others.”
Though the mileage is continually taking a toll on Sunim’s bicycle, he never lacks parts or service as they are donated by people who have heard of Sunim’s journey. While Sunim can always find a camping spot, a fellow monk named Adam Tebe has started a facebook page where complete strangers can volunteer to provide Sunim shelter and meals.
This impromptu support team, created with absolutely no direction from Sunim himself, has also created a blog where host families can post their accounts of Sunim’s stay with them, and where Sunim’s own blog posts are translated into English so his new friends can follow his travels. Sunim is finding social media to be an important way to share his journey with all his new friends and share his message with people he may never actually have the opportunity to meet in person.
As he covers endless miles of asphalt, Sunim is met with boundless enthusiasm and encouragement from supporters of his ambitious bicycle journey. Dave Pope, a member of the support group for the monk, calls the kindness these random strangers are exhibiting “an example of brotherly love and mutual respect” and “a testament to kindness and generosity.”
What better way to see North America, connect with your spirituality, and experience our species’ capacity for compassion than by bike?
Sunim will soon be crossing the Canadian border into Maine. If you are interested in learning more about him and how you can be a part of this journey of human kindness, visit the facebook page or his blog.