A South Korean cyclist who has pedalled her way through 74 countries says Australians are just as generous as ever, even in a time of crisis.
Jin Jeong has traversed six continents in the course of her nine-year, 80,000 kilometre journey, but public health restrictions – and Queensland’s coastline – have forced her to slow down.
“I cannot make any plans at the moment because we are having really uncertain times,” she said.
While a tent has been her home for much of her year-long stay in Australia, Ms Jeong said the kindness of a Gold Coast stranger has put a roof over her head.
A ‘beautiful focus’
That roof came courtesy of Palm Beach resident Zoe Milsom and her family, who counted themselves among Ms Jeong’s 42,000 Facebook followers.
“I’ve got two little girls, six and nine, and I thought this is their chance to see that the world is so much bigger than the Gold Coast,” Ms Milsom said.
“The world map has just totally come off the page now.
“Australians are really, generally speaking, lovely, welcoming, friendly people and it’d be nice and if we could continue sharing that.
“Politics are heightened over fears of what’s coming and going and I think it’s just beautiful that Jin’s focus is, ‘Well, I just want to focus on the people.'”
While cases of racism towards Asians have been well reported, Ms Jeong said her experience in Australia has been largely positive.
“This is confused year — like, I’m having happy moment and then I’m like, ‘Is it ok to be happy?’ because people are suffering,” she said.
Wildlife, waves and what’s to come
Prior to the tightening of Queensland’s border restrictions earlier this month, Ms Jeong arrived on the Gold Coast from New South Wales, with three goals.
“[To] see a wild koala,” she said.
That last goal has been achieved thanks to the Milsoms, who were able to offer Ms Jeong a surfboard along with a place to stay.
Ms Jeong plans to cycle north to Brisbane this week but said she’s mindful of how quickly public health restrictions can change.
“I have lots of fear and I’m scared of everything,” she said.
Her hope is to return home after a final cycling trek through North Korea — a task she said would be “nearly impossible”.
In the meantime, Ms Jeong said the Milsom family are among the “best friends” she had made during her travels.
“They’re a lovely family and I’ve just fallen in love since meeting them,” she said.
The feeling is mutual for Ms Milsom.
“We’ve got a new family member now,” she said.