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  • Writer's pictureAjmal Samuel

Reflecting on an eventful year of Adventure and Inclusivity

Ajmal commemorates the conclusion of the Bikethon and a triumphant business and adventure-filled year, capturing the moment against the backdrop of the golden chapel at Pluak Ket Temple, Rayong, Thailand. While the saying "all that glitters is not gold" cautions against superficial judgments, it's evident that Ajmal Samuel transcends this notion. Those acquainted with him would unanimously affirm that Ajmal is an authentic individual—transparent, sincere, composed, and considerate. He is true to his word, demonstrating unwavering commitment and follow-through, ensuring that every promise is fulfilled, and goals are achieved without leaving anything unfinished. Like a cut quartz chandelier, he's makes those around him sparkle with energy and optimism.

The year 2023 marked a turning point for the world as COVID-19 finally started to recede, allowing us to embrace a relatively normal life once again. With this newfound freedom, opportunities and experiences abound, opening up a world of possibilities. As we kicked off the year, it was time to revisit the ASF agenda and chart a course for the year ahead.

During the final event of the year, the Cam-Thai Bikethon, Ajmal explored a mangrove forest reserve along the Gulf of Thailand. The saying "can't see the wood for the trees" suggests being overly focused on details, losing sight of the bigger picture. This, however, does not apply to Ajmal. He navigates seamlessly between immediate priorities and long-term goals, demonstrating a meticulous approach to planning and a visionary outlook. Ajmal Samuel takes each day as it comes and is already setting his sights on ambitious plans for 2024.

Promoting Inclusivity

Determined to foster inclusivity, ASF identified an exceptional athlete, Ithisham Ali, from Pakistan. It was decided to not only mentor him but also support him in his hand cycling endeavors. As a mark of our commitment, Ithisham was invited to Singapore, where he was presented with a brand-new hand bike. His journey included participating in his first ever 100Km show ride, where he achieved an impressive 60Km.

Changing Plans

As political tensions escalated in Pakistan, we made the difficult decision to postpone the K2K trip. Instead, a new adventure emerged – the Baltic/Scandinavian ride. Starting from Lithuania and ending in Norway, this journey spanned an impressive distance of 2500Km. My personal challenge was to hand-cycle through Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, and finally, Norway, in a span of 35 days. Save to say, we did it.

Radiant smiles illuminated the gathering with the Pakistan Ambassador to Norway, Saadia Altaf Qazi. Hosted by Ms. Altaf Qazi and her team, Ajmal, accompanied by his wife, Ms. Carol Cheung, along with friends and prominent members of the South Asian business community in Oslo, had the honor and pleasure of recounting tales from his recent epic journey across the Baltic states and Scandinavia. Expressing the joy of concluding his expedition in the Norwegian capital, Ajmal underscored that his Nordic adventure is a significant bucket-list achievement, marking the fulfillment of a longstanding ambition and goal.

Collaboration and Documentation

In June, I had the pleasure of meeting professional photographer Richard Dobson. Recognizing the importance of capturing and sharing my various adventures and sporting endeavors, we began working closely to document the work of ASF. Together, we embarked on a journey of storytelling through visuals, aiming to inspire others to embrace their own passions.

Photographer Richard Mark Dobson, also known as 'The Escape Artist,' discovered his passion for photography in 1985, adopting the mantra 'Have Camera, Will Travel.' Beyond a well-worn phrase, it reflects the photographer's readiness and eagerness to explore diverse locations, capturing compelling images wherever intriguing subjects arise. Finding a kindred spirit in adventure-seeking, Richard joined Ajmal in June 2023 after a positive meeting, marking the beginning of their collaborative journey. Richard's website tagline, "Inspired by existential themes. Ultimately by the elemental chiaroscuro in our lives & art," mirrors his artistic philosophy.

The Baltics/Scandinavia Ride

August 2023 marked the start of our much-anticipated Baltic/Scandinavia hand bike ride. Covering Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway, we traversed a total distance of 2025Km over the course of 35 days. All funds raised during this trip were allocated to Hong kong based charity Resolve Foundation via the iResolve challenge. I also collaborated with Rimantas, a filmmaker from Lithuania, to create short movies that captured the essence of our journey. Rimantas also joined us on the ride, further enriching the experience.

Lithuanian film maker Rimantas Navikus seen pedaling through the Baltic mists and swimming the Gulf of Riga

Exploring Africa

Continuing the pursuit of inclusivity, I embarked on an African odyssey. From scuba diving to paragliding in Cape Town, I indulged in thrilling adventures. With a spirit of exploration, I drove from Cape Town to Namibia, immersing myself in the natural wonders and diverse cultures of this beautiful continent.

Screen Grabs of video footage that will be edited into an ASF promo in 2024, we see Ajmal at the wheel, smashing distances across the seemingly infinite expanses of Namibia.

Fundraising for Education

In a bid to make a positive impact beyond our personal pursuits, I joined forces with cyclists from a local Hong Kong church for the Cambodia-Thailand hand biking ride. This endeavor served as a fundraising initiative for Pailin primary and secondary schools, bringing education to those who need it the most.

Bikeathon moments Cam-Thai 2023. Siem Reap to Bangkok. For more insights and photos, see our previous blog here;

As the year drew to a close, I couldn't help but reflect on the tremendous growth and fulfillment that came with pursuing my passions. Through ASF, we continue to break barriers and empower individuals like Ithisham Ali, promoting inclusivity beyond borders. With each adventure, we inspire others to push their boundaries, making the world a more inclusive and vibrant place. The year 2023 will forever hold a special place in my heart as a time of remarkable achievement and personal growth.

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1 Comment

Irshad Nazir
Irshad Nazir
Jan 02

Maa'Shaa'Allah reflection of eventful and wonderful memories of 2023 full of determined and well organised pursuits and proud successes, lot of prayers for coming years

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