Bike enthusiast Rohith Subramaniam on his travel tales across 46 countries
A 22-year-old is biking across 46 countries, and it's the people who are paying for his Royal Enfield journey
Rohith Subramaniam at Ta Van in the picturesque valley of Muong Hoa, Vietnam
While riding from Cambodia to Laos in September this year, Rohith Subramaniam recalls being intercepted by security personnel while entering Laos.
"They looked at me, scanned my passport and claimed the man in the picture wasn't me!" he recalls. Incidentally, the passport-sized picture was clicked when Subramaniam was a fresh-faced 16-year-old, a far cry from his current rugged appearance.
"I haven't shaved my beard since the past one-and-a-half years, so I don't blame them. But, it was amusing because for the first time I had to prove to someone that I am me!" he laughs. After hours of hysterical conversation and earnest pleading, he was finally let into the country.
Subramaniam is a man who can never run out of stories to tell. Born in Bengaluru and currently in Mumbai, the 22-year-old has embarked on a road journey that will take him to 46 countries in the next year-and-a-half.
In January this year, Subramaniam made headlines when he rode around India for 150 days covering all the states and union territories on his royal Enfield. All through, he survived by selling tea, working as a waiter, tilling farms and even repairing broken shoes. "I crossed a distance of 32,000 km and kept doing odd jobs in every state. I never stayed in a hotel or a hostel," he says. After the India leg of his journey, he travelled to South East Asia and covered 7 countries including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
"In Singapore, I rented a bike for 3 days which I think was a big mistake because the place is smaller than Chennai, just 50 kms overall. I was done in a couple of hours exploring the place." Interestingly, Subramaniam doesn't chart an itinerary or a plan while travelling because he believes that to experience a place, it is important to explore a place beyond the usual tourist trail. However, the one thing he does without fail, is chat extensively with the locals. "I've seen hidden gems in countries, thanks to them. For instance, there's a waterfall on the China Vietnam border, which is not on the tourist radar because you need to travel 300 kms to it. I spent three hours there and it was magical," he says.
Rohith's only luggage is a duffel bag with clothes, essentials, a laptop and chargers; he believes in travelling light. He had a GoPro attached to his helmet that he lost during a trip. "With hindsight, I was happy I lost it because that was my only expensive belonging. Once that was gone, I didn't care about anything. I had nothing else worth mugging," he jokes.
The thirst to travel began last year when Subramaniam launched a crowdfunding start-up called FundMyDream. "I used to run a crowdsourcing company and initially found it tough to crowdfund my trip. However, the Internet was helpful and helped me raise about Rs 5 lakh." Not wanting to get into the corporate job rut, he sold his shares in the company and has been on the road for over a year now. For now, Subramaniam has lost 15 kilos in the course of the ride.
"I have one meal a day and survive on water for the rest of the day. Food makes me lethargic and does not allow me to ride for long hours," he adds. When we quiz him about the reason for zeroing in on 46 countries, Subramaniam says it's Valentino Rossi's jersey's number. "I would love to travel the whole world. I just realised I had to start somewhere."
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