‘A Bike-Turned-Food Stall Funded My Solo Rides to 10 Indian States, Myanmar & Nepal’

Jibin MAdhu solo traveller from Kerala

On 1 April 2021, Pala, Kottayam native Jibin Madhu packed a bag with a few clothes and other necessities and left his home in search of a job. While his Yamaha FZ had a full tank of petrol, his wallet had just Rs 5,000. But he was certain that a steady, full-time job would never work for him as he wanted to explore new things. So, he decided to spend many days at different destinations, work somewhere for not more than a month, earn money and travel to another place.

However, his ‘short’ trip was extended to one year, three months and 17 days, where the 24-year-old visited Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and even crossed Nepal and Myanmar, turning it into an ‘international, all-India’ trip.

Interestingly, his parents and friends came to know about this adventure through his Instagram posts and YouTube videos, and they tried to talk him out of it. But even with limited amenities and overcoming extreme climatic conditions, he explored new territories on his two-wheeler.

“From when I could remember, I was interested in travelling. Nearby hills, rivers and tourist spots were the destinations then and it slowly expanded,” says Jibin, the hotel management graduate. “Since I was a teenager, an all-India trip was always my dream.”

Jibin Madhu solo traveller from Kerala
Jibin Madhu– the solo traveller.

“Having said this, I had no prior experience of taking such a long journey alone. I thought bagging a part-time job would be easy but that was the toughest part of the whole trip. It was only after meeting 14-15 people that I got to work in a dhaba, that too with meagre wages,” shares the rider.

A two-wheeler food stall

When finding jobs at different locations became a task and his wallet felt lighter, Jibin decided to make use of the available resources to start a food stall on his bike. He had a kerosene stove and a few utensils along with some Kerala matta rice. He purchased some more items to serve noodles, bread omelette and tea to travellers on his route. The kitchen was set up on the bike’s top box where water and fuel were stored. Everything felt simple as he had prior experience in a kitchen. 

“In the high altitude areas of the eastern part, there are barely any food stalls. I began my business here and it was an instant success. I bought the ingredients from the valleys. When Keralites visited, I served them boiled rice too and I earned Rs 500-600 per day from my two-wheeler food stall,” says Jibin.

He also adds that it was during the ride that he saw many people running such stalls on their vehicles. This is how the idea struck him. Jibin bought a few more utensils and paper plates after earning a decent amount. The rest was spent on fuel and other requirements for the trip. He was even able to send a good enough amount to his home from the total income. 

“More than the income from the stall, it was due to the kindness of people that I set forth my dream journey. While some offered me work, others provided me with a space to sleep. A man from Assam even gifted me a tent, as mine was torn in the middle,” he recalls.

Jibin Madhu solo traveller from Kerala
Wandering through the east.

Despite all these hiccups, the trip wasn’t easy at all. His bike broke down several times and Jibin had to spend around Rs 10,000 on its repairs. “But what kept me going all along is the fondness of strangers, help from fellow riders and support of my followers on social media,” says the YouTuber who has 16,900 subscribers on the platform. His channel is called Kumbu Travel which is filled with the live journey experiences shared in both Malayalam and Tamil languages.

During the journey, a vlogger from Tamil Nadu featured Jibin on his channel which brought in a lot of Tamil viewers to Kumbu Travel. As a token of gratitude, Jibin occasionally makes videos in Tamil. 

The traveller even took part in the farmer’s protest while staying in Delhi. 

While usual riders cover hundreds of kilometres a day, Jibin finds a destination and stays there for a few days knowing its people and culture. This also helps him to find small jobs too. 

“I never imagined a random journey would turn into an all-India trip. There’s something about travelling which makes me keep going no matter what obstacles and challenges come in between. Travelling provides a new sense of freedom and satisfaction,” gushes the youngster.

Jibin has plans to visit foreign countries including Thailand on his two-wheeler. He is preparing himself and his bike for this big journey now. “Whatever happens, I’ll have my kerosene stove and utensils ready which gives me the confidence of ultimately reaching my destination,” he says. 

Edited by Yoshita Rao

Author: Aaron Ryan