Travelling across 28 countries in three-and-a-half years, solo rider wins hearts on way
The 37-year-old actress and drama therapist based in Italy believes her journey has helped shatter many myths and stereotypes associated with different countries and cultures.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Myth-buster – that’s the word biker Elena Axinte uses to sum up her ongoing road trip of three-and-a-half years spanning 28 countries and clocking over 1.2 lakh kilometres. The 37-year-old actress and drama therapist based in Italy believes her journey has helped shatter many myths and stereotypes associated with different countries and cultures, and also strengthened her belief that the world is one big family after all.
When she set out from Italy to explore the world on her Harley Davidson Sportster 883 Iron bike in August 2019, Romania-born Elena aka ‘Hele Biker’, did not have a specific plan. All that Elena had was the experience of covering seven African countries on a previous bike trip during which she was hosted by the local people.
“I never stayed in a hotel at any point during the African trip, thanks to the kind-hearted people in those countries to whom I was introduced through our bikers’ network and social media. When I came back and narrated my experience, many people said such a trip to other parts of the world was impossible. Then I took up the challenge to travel solo across the world and be the guest of the local people all along,” Elena told TNIE during her brief stint in Kerala.
From Italy, Elena headed to eastern Europe and then to Turkey and entered West Asia through Lebanon and covered all the Arab countries. However, she had to spend almost a year in Saudi Arabia when the pandemic was at its peak.
“I spent close to four months with a family in Saudi Arabia, of which one month was spent as a Covid patient. They never let me go to a hotel or find another accommodation during those troubled times and took care of me as a family member,” Elena remembers.
Owing to the Covid-related restrictions on crossing borders, she toured Saudi Arabia and UAE extensively and familiarised herself with the culture of the Arab world. “Contrary to popular belief, I felt most safe during my stint in the Arab countries. Besides, the hospitality of the people there was unmatched. It made me realise that one can only have a correct notion about a country, its people and culture only if one experiences it first hand,” said Elena. Elena also toured Iraq, Iran and Pakistan extensively before entering India through the Wagah border. From there, the solo biker covered over 6,000km, touring various states in India before arriving in Kerala. Elena spent the New Year in Varkala and was hosted by biker Roy Prabhakaran and family.
“Hosting Elena was quite an experience for us as we understood how easily a person can imbibe the local culture with an open mind. Though she had issues adjusting to the spicy food, she took it all with a smile,” said Roy who has led multiple bike expeditions to the Himalayas.
Elena’s initial plan was to go to Sri Lanka via Puducherry through the proposed ferry service between India and Sri Lanka. Since the launch of the ferry service may get delayed, the biker is now busy arranging documents to enter Bangladesh. Meanwhile, a trip to the Himalayas and then to Nepal is also very much on the cards.
“Other than a basic idea about the route that I should follow, nothing else was planned. And there lies the beauty of the entire journey,” said Elena. The biker also wants to tour South East Asia, Australia and also America if her heart still pushes for more adventure.