LIFE IS TOO SHORT!
Fukkit. Sometimes, life is just too short. In fact, I'm too short, too! Heh.
Last year, I woke up thinking just that... (about life, not my height) and since then Covid has reinforced my thinking.
I'm launching myself on a brand new adventure: I'm cycling around the World on "LING's BIKE TRIP".
I came to the UK in 1998, from China... after marrying my hubby Jon, in Finland. Getting a visa and UK passport was hard, but I did it legally. After studying in Bournemouth for a Masters' degree, I saw what Jon was doing in the motor-trade and thought: "I can do better than that". So, I did.
LINGsCARS was born around 2005. I made myself a nuclear missile truck for publicity, created a crazy website, got on BBC Dragons' Den in 2008 and rejected Duncan Bannatyne, and the rest just seemed to explode - selling 1,000 new cars a year to some really great customers, it's been a roller-coaster ride!
The customers may have been great, but most of the motor trade hasn't been so good. In general, the trade and the finance companies hated me (and most still do). They hated my website, my attitude and I'm sure there was an element of racism and misogyny... I certainly have never been part of "the club".
So 15-years on, I've decided to gift to my super staff (Guy, Lily and David) a healthy company, a small but supportive bunch of suppliers, a fantastic customer base and a £50,000 bank balance. LINGsCARS will be 100% theirs. I am bowing out. I wish them all the best, they can use my name and image, I trust them. I hope my customers will stay loyal and continue to lease new cars from LINGsCARS.
I'm going to launch myself into the World on my bicycle!
I SOLD EVERYTHING AND DE-CLUTTERED MY LIFE
I'd built a lovely comfortable life with Jon. Financially secure, beautiful farm and wonderful house.
Now - BOOM! - I've sold my lovely farm, sold many of my assets, cleared all the clutter out of my life... literally everything has gone. Making these changes has been incredibly difficult and it's meant some very hard decisions. But, I've been brave and I hate to shy away from any challenge.
I've vaccinated myself to the eyeballs with rabies, tetanus, hepatitis, MMR, typhoid, yellow fever and cholera vaccines and bought a thermos-green Surly bicycle, a tent, a Brooks saddle and a pair of padded shorts.
Together with my hubby Jon, I'm off to explore the World. On bicycles. Ta-daaa.
I want to do this because it will be difficult. I don't just want an easy life. Sitting on a beach drinking pina coladas is great, but I want the struggle to get there. With time, and money and health, I'm fortunate to be able to do what I want. So, I'm grabbing my adventure by the horns (or handlebars) and cracking on!
A lot of people have been telling me I'm mad, crazy. I think that reinforces my belief that I'm doing the right thing. Most people tend to be a bit cowardly and to play it safe and not take risks... I've never done that - I've always gone for it.
DAMN THE VIRUS!
Damn this annoying virus! But I guess life will go on, so it's not stopping me. My boat is booked... from Portsmouth to Bilbao on the 18th November 2020. The very start of my bike trip. Two nights of "luxury" (on a ferry), and then Hola! Spain, and head for the Algarve for a slightly warmer Christmas than in the UK.
But I thank Covid for getting me into gear... and as the weather warms, I plan vaguely to head around Spain, back up across France, Italy, Balkans, Greece, Turkey, the Caucuses, the Caspian (from Baku), the Stans, then China... to visit my parents and family.
And then, south, Yunnan to Laos, Cambodia, Viet, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Australasia, then up to Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, then over to the USA, maybe to start in Alaska at Dead Horse and cycle downhill to Argentina, then, maybe... Africa.
You get the picture. Boom. It all depends on visas and if countries open up again, but I'm winging it.
Why have I chosen to cycle around the World? Rather than take a motorbike or camper van, or fly or cruise? Well... because cycling is slower, and it's more difficult.
Uphill and downhill, in the sun and in the rain. It doesn't have anything to do with cheapness. However, living a simpler life with just the stuff I carry on my bike, will be mentally refreshing.
Cycling means I can meet and talk to more people on the way... it's far less threatening to people than roaring past at 50mph on a loud motorbike with my head inside a crash helmet, and it's far more tactile than being stuck in a tin and plastic box of a motorcaravan, staring out of the windscreen at the World as I drive from point to point, and lock myself in the van at night.
Cycling is much more fun, I think; it's more honest. To be out in the elements on a bicycle with a tent strapped on the back, out in the sun and the wind and the rain. Sweating, panting, crying. It's quite raw.
I never did the gap-year thing when I was a teenager, as I was a Chinese, and Chinese people just don't do that wasteful adventure stuff. We're taught to study, instead.
And to work like dogs. And Chinese passports were visa-magnets, it's hard to travel on a Chinese passport. But now I'm over 45, and I'm British, with a new dark blue ex-EU passport and I thought "why not?".
I never made myself into the Chinese parents' dream of a doctor or lawyer-child.
I've created a comfortable life where I was in control of my own business. I had no boss. Even so, why do I want to be sitting in front of a computer every day, selling cars, just to make more and more money? I mean, how much money do I need? Enough... that's all. I have enough.
I've never taken a penny in benefits in the UK, and hope to never need any. I've contributed £££s in taxes, and created about 100 man-years of staff employment ...so now I think at 47 years old it's time to escape with a positive society balance sheet.
Sure, I'll miss my great staff, my many good friends, my lovely farmhouse, my wonderful pets and animals, my nice income and above all I'll miss my brilliant customers. But, I only have one life - I need to live it!
HUBBY AND FRIENDS GET A FREE TRIP
Jon, my suffering British hubby, will be with me on our trip and we hope to make many YouTube movies as I ride, because I think it will be lovely to be able to interact with people I already know, on my way, via videos.
To talk to ex-car customers, friends, and acquaintances. For instance, to ask advice from people like you... pals, to get travel tips, to get help if needed, we can have fun online during my trip. I've designed a live map, showing where I am and where I'm heading.
I hope many of my car customers reading this will support my staff, by continuing to use LINGsCARS. I'm trusting them with my IP, my brand and my name, and I'm sure they will do a great job. They are a fantastic team and deserve all the success.
So, feel free to join me, online or in person, on my bike, on my early retirement trip that I hope will last many years. Look at my map and send me an email.
Maybe fly over to wherever I am, rent a bike, and spend a week cycling the World with me? Why not? Come and buy me a coffee, treat me to a meal: I might desperately need it!
Could I die on my journey? Maybe. Bears in Canada or the Balkans? Wolves in Spain? Tarantulas in Peru? Altitude sickness on the Pamir? AK47s and scorpions in Africa? Cops and guns in America? Covid19? Typhoid? Shitting diseases? Falling off the edge of a mountain? All these things are very possible, but a boring usual road traffic accident is far more likely to be the biggest risk. I'll be careful.
I hope my new World cycling adventure can encourage YOU to break free of the chains that stop YOU doing YOUR stuff, before it's too late, too! It's taken an awful lot of work (and it's been scary at times) to get to the position of winding up my "normal" UK life, and unwinding myself from LINGsCARS.
But, if I can do it, so can you! Go live your dreams. Squash your fears. No excuses.