Based in Milan, Italy, Elena Axinte, also known as Hele Biker, is an esteemed Romanian actress and drama therapist. In August 2019, Elena embarked on her most remarkable expedition yet, the Solo World Tour on a motorbike. Setting off on this audacious endeavour, she has since travelled across an impressive 30 countries. Her remarkable journey has taken her through the enchanting realms of East Europe, the captivating Middle East, and she now finds herself in magical Nepal preparing to embark on her next chapter of exploring the captivating South East Asian countries and beyond.
In conversation with Elena, WOW’s Prajwal Nepali explores her remarkable life and experiences. She uncovers the inspirations that propelled her to embark on her incredible adventures, the challenges she has overcome, and the profound insights she has gained as an actress and drama therapist.
What inspired you to embark on your Solo World Tour on a motorbike? How did your background in acting and drama therapy contribute to this decision?
I was inspired to embark on my Solo World Tour on motorbike due to a combination of factors. Firstly, I had a brief but impactful love story with a rider who owned a Harley Davidson bike. Through this connection, I began to develop a fascination with motorcycles. As I delved deeper into my passion for bikes, I embarked on an inner journey of self-discovery and research. I realised that motorbike travel offered a unique opportunity for self-knowledge and personal growth. The sense of freedom and exhilaration that comes with riding a motorcycle resonated deeply with me.
My background in acting and drama therapy played a significant role in my decision as well. These disciplines have taught me the value of exploration and stepping outside of my comfort zone. They encouraged me to embrace new experiences and challenge myself. Ultimately, I fell in love with the idea of travelling the world on a motorbike. I observed and connected with other people who were already exploring the world on two wheels, and their stories further fueled my determination. This realisation led me to embark on my Solo World Tour, where I could combine my passion for motorcycles with the desire to explore different cultures and connect with people from all walks of life.
What does travel mean to you? Does your gender pose an additional challenge while travelling solo?
To me, travel is synonymous with life itself. It is a privilege and a stroke of luck to be able to embark on incredible journeys and explore the world. Despite the existence of stereotypes, I have found that being a woman while travelling solo has not posed any significant challenges. On the contrary, I have been honoured with respect and admiration from people I encounter along the way. When people see me on my bike, they recognise and appreciate my courage and independence. I have never experienced disrespect based on my gender. Coming from a culture that allows me to express myself freely, I want to serve as an example that every woman deserves respect and should be able to pursue her dreams fearlessly.
During my travels, I have been fascinated by the Middle East where women are often faced with restrictions. However, in these countries, I was given the freedom to do everything. This experience felt mysterious and powerful, highlighting the potential for change and breaking down barriers.
Throughout my solo travels, I have learned three significant things about myself. First, I have discovered the power of self-love and the importance of finding happiness within myself. I have realised that my happiness does not solely rely on external factors, but rather on my own sense of fulfillment and contentment. Secondly, I have cultivated a deep belief in my own abilities. Travelling solo has shown me that I am capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to. It has taught me to trust my instincts, take risks, and embrace the unknown with confidence. Lastly, I have learned the significance of embracing self-reliance and independence.
Can you share some memorable experiences or encounters you have had during your journey so far? How have these experiences influenced your perspective on connection, love, tolerance and acceptance?
One of the most beautiful aspects of my journey has been the realisation that home is not confined to a physical place. Rather, it can be found everywhere as long as there are kind-hearted individuals willing to extend their hospitality. I have been fortunate enough to live in new places with the generous support of local people who have welcomed me into their homes and communities. In bidding farewell to these wonderful individuals who have provided me with shelter, I have often found myself becoming a part of their extended family.
Travelling through various countries and cultures can be challenging. How do you navigate language barriers and cultural differences to establish meaningful connections with the people you meet along the way?
In situations where language becomes an obstacle, a simple smile can often convey warmth, kindness, and a genuine desire to connect. Additionally, I make an earnest effort to learn the local language as I journey through different places. By investing time and energy into understanding the language and culture, I can forge deeper connections and demonstrate respect for the communities I encounter. Communication takes on many forms, and I firmly believe that meaningful connections can transcend linguistic barriers.
As I travel, I embrace the idea that I belong everywhere, understanding that the relationship between myself and others is in my hands. It is my responsibility to foster connections, build bridges, and nurture a sense of kinship with the people I encounter along the way.
As you cross borders and explore diverse regions, have you noticed any common threads or universal themes that connect people across different cultures? How do you incorporate these observations into your work as a drama therapist?
While each place has its unique values and cultural practices, there is a gradual diversity that reveals itself. One of the common threads I have observed is the power of flexibility and adaptability. Regardless of the cultural context, people have a remarkable capacity to adjust to new circumstances, navigate change, and find ways to thrive. This resilience and openness to embracing the unknown is a universal theme that transcends cultural boundaries.
In my work as a drama therapist, I incorporate these observations by fostering acceptance and connection. By recognizing and respecting the diverse backgrounds and experiences of the individuals and communities I work with, I create a space that encourages inclusivity and understanding. I strive to create an environment where individuals feel safe to explore their own stories, perspectives, and cultural influences. Moreover, I embrace a mindset of continuous learning from every culture and place I encounter. By being open to the wisdom and practices of different cultures, I can integrate the best elements into my work as a drama therapist.
What challenges have you faced during your journey, and how have you overcome them? How do you maintain resilience and adaptability while constantly being on the move?
During my journey, I have encountered various challenges that have tested my resilience and adaptability. One of the most significant challenges I face is bidding farewell to the people I meet along the way. Saying “goodbye” can be emotionally challenging as the connections formed during my travels often become deep and meaningful. However, I remind myself that goodbyes are a natural part of this nomadic lifestyle and that the memories and connections made will stay with me forever. In addition to the emotional aspect, I face practical challenges as well. Navigating bad roads, enduring extreme weather conditions, and handling the weight of the bike can be physically demanding and sometimes daunting. Despite these obstacles, I refuse to give up. I persevere and find ways to overcome these challenges as they arise. I also recognise the importance of proper planning and managing logistics effectively. Taking care of paperwork, ensuring a smooth travel process, and staying organised help alleviate some of the stress that comes with constant movement.
Looking ahead, what are you most excited about as you continue your journey through South East Asian countries and beyond? Are there any particular destinations or cultural practices you are eager to experience?
My desire to explore extends beyond South East Asia. I have a strong yearning to venture to all continents, to immerse myself in the varied landscapes, cultures, and traditions that this beautiful planet has to offer. Whether it’s the bustling streets of a vibrant city, the serene beauty of a natural landscape, or the rich tapestry of cultural practices, I am eager to witness it all and gain a deeper understanding of the world we inhabit. Throughout my journey, I hold the belief that home is everywhere. This belief allows me to feel a sense of belonging no matter where I roam. It reminds me to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of each destination, and to connect with the local communities in a meaningful way.
How do you envision your journey creating a positive impact in the world?
Through my travels, my ultimate message and lesson for my audience and the communities I encounter is to showcase the good side of the world. While social media often highlights negative aspects and challenges, I choose to focus on the positive aspects of life and humanity. I believe that there is inherent goodness in the world, and it is important to shed light on it. By sharing stories of kindness, resilience, and the beauty that exists in different cultures, I hope to inspire others to see the world through a more optimistic lens. I want to ignite a sense of hope and possibility in people’s hearts, reminding them that despite the challenges we face, there is always goodness and potential for positive change.
Additionally, I firmly believe that each individual has the power to make a positive impact. Through my journey, I strive to inspire others to find their own way and to discover the best out of any situation. I want to encourage people to tap into their own potential, embrace their dreams, and contribute to creating a better world.
Can you share any insights for individuals who aspire to embark on similar adventurous journeys that blend their passions and social impact?
Be non-judgmental in your approach. Instead of passing judgment on the people, cultures or experiences you encounter, approach them with an open mind and a willingness to learn. See each encounter as an opportunity for growth and understanding. Collect the good from your experiences and use it to create positive change, both for yourself and for the world. Practicing acceptance, tolerance, and adaptability is essential. As you navigate different environments, cultures, and challenges, embrace the diversity and be open to new perspectives. Learn to adapt to new circumstances and find creative solutions. Cultivating a mindset of acceptance and tolerance will foster meaningful connections and help you overcome obstacles along the way.
As an actress, drama therapist, and world traveller, how do you balance your personal growth and self-care while continuously engaging with diverse communities and their unique challenges?
I often see myself as a sponge, absorbing everything around me, but selecting only the good things that are beneficial not only for myself but also for others and the world. Travelling, in particular, is a profound and comprehensive teacher. It provides me with invaluable experiences and lessons that contribute to my personal growth. Through my travels, I am constantly exposed to different cultures, perspectives, and ways of life. This exposure allows me to broaden my understanding, challenge my assumptions, and continuously evolve as an individual.
In terms of balancing personal growth and self-care, I prioritise taking care of my well-being. Whether it’s finding moments of solitude, engaging in activities that bring me joy, or maintaining healthy boundaries, I ensure that I create space for self-care amidst my interactions with diverse communities. I approach my journey with a deep appreciation for the transformative power of travel. It is through these experiences that I am able to continuously grow, learn, and contribute positively to the communities I encounter. By prioritising self-care, embracing the teachings of travel, and remaining open to the lessons and experiences that come my way, I find harmony between personal growths and engaging with diverse communities.