Dubai-born Indian's global bike ride for 'MAD' cause

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Dubai-born Indians global bike ride for MAD cause
Atul Warrier, who travels about 300km a day, will travel around the seven emirates in the UAE. - Supplied photos

Dubai - Meet Dubai-born Indian biker who quit his job to live his dream.

By Kelly Clarke

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Published: Wed 17 Feb 2016, 11:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 Feb 2016, 12:33 PM

In 2005, Atul Warrier lay bed-ridden for five months due to ongoing back problems. Ten years on, it's the world that now lies ridden with his motorcycle tracks, following a brave decision to leave his "humdrum life" behind to embark on a trans-continental expedition.
 Now 18,000km into a 45,000km trek around the world, Warrier and his beloved Black Pearl - a 2002 Royal Enfield Thunderbird - have battled floods, numerous accidents and several sleepless nights to "live the dream".
"I guess you could say, career-wise, I was pretty successful, but as a person I did not feel fulfilled," Warrier told Khaleej Times, less than 24 hours after pulling up in Dubai for a two-week pit-stop.Kerala-based Warrier had it all - A car, a career and a nice condo.
But true to his "mad" nature, he gave it all up, packed his bags and took the bull by the horns - or in his case, Black Pearl by the handles."In India, your status in society is so important. In certain ways the strings that are attached to you can make life easy, but for me, it was hard to keep up appearances."However, he said, he felt imprisoned by some of them in life.
In 2012, Warrier took a six month break from work and spent one month biking around India. For him, that was the eye-opener he needed."I met some great people, from all walks of life, and that's when I said 'sod it, I can do life like this'."
He spent the next few years freelancing, saving and planning his global trail, and in early 2015 Warrier made the final leap. And that too for a cause. Selling practically everything he owned - including his house - the soon-to-be-nomad set off from Kanyakumari, India, with all his possessions fitting onto his 175cc bike - including a haul of spare parts for Black Pearl."Everyone assumes selling everything you own is the tough part. It's not. The tough part is making the decision to live your dream," he said.
Since that leap of faith, Warrier has rode 18,000kms across Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bali, Australia and Oman.
"Singapore should have been on that route too, but Black Pearl never actually made it into the country because of some issues we had with her documentation."So, one man, one machine and the long and winding road to nowhere!
 Romantic but tough
Though it may sound romantic, the journey has been both "enlightening and tough at times", he said.One particular memory sticks out to him.
About 100km off the highway in Laos, Warrier found himself at Kong Lor Cave - a limestone cave in Phu Hin Bun National Park, where the Nam Hin Bun River flows into it.
"It started raining really heavily. It was the worst the village had seen in a long time. The whole place was flooded."
With water sitting at chest height, the only way out was on a rickety one metre wide by two metre long wooden boat.
"I had to persuade one of the villagers to let me load Black Pearl onto the boat."But that 10 minute river crossing felt like a lifetime, he said.
"Because of the weight of the bike we were practically sinking. That was another experience where I thought, 'yea, I can combat this'. It was scary though."
Without a single word between them, they did make it across, and Warrier says "human nature and trust" has so far got him through many sticky situations."Throughout my journey I have never met such caring, giving and selfless people. In a world of unknowns, trust is your most valuable tool," he said.
With hotel beds few and far between, Warrier has bedded down in hostels, tents, and strangers homes.And from meeting local villagers, busy townspeople to fellow roaming backpackers, the experience so far has been one of complete triumph.
Travelling about 300km a day, Warrier said, he typically stops off for a few nights every couple of days to explore what's around him.
So far he has taken a quick dip in Indonesia's Toba supervolcano in Sumatra - the world's largest volcanic lake - he has met with the Kayan tribe where women have unusually long necks thanks to the brass rings around them, and he's even survived a motorbike accident while riding from Cambodia to Bangkok.
"I was convinced this experience was going to give me all the riches in the world and it truly has."
Now stopping in Dubai - where he was both born and schooled - Warrier plans to make his way around the UAE's seven emirates before heading off to Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, and Spain among others.
Though the original plan was to hit about 40 countries in 550 days, he expects to tick off about 32 countries by June this year.
"I came away with everything I had, about Dh200,000. At some point that will run out. Although it terrifies me, I'll probably go back to working for a bit in India, but it will be a case of save, save, save before heading off again."
Though hunger, fatigue and a sense of loneliness may have pushed Warrier to his limits at times, one thing remains constant: his love for the unknown, and it is that which will continue to drive both him and Black Pearl on leg two of this epic journey.

A snapshot of Atul Warrier’s successful journey across Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bali, Austarlia and Oman, before arriving in the UAE.
A snapshot of Atul Warrier’s successful journey across Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Bali, Austarlia and Oman, before arriving in the UAE.

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