I Explored Asia Over Land at 20: Traveling Young Gave Me Purpose
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Robbie Sokolowsky, on the Pamir Highway, in Gorno Badakshan, Tajikistan (Photo: Robbie Sokolowsky)
Who: Robbie Sokolowsky, who has been traveling solo since he was 18-years old. When he was 20, he traveled across Asia over land (and sea) from China to Egypt in a life-changing adventure that took him through the jungles of Laos and India, the soaring Himalayas of Tibet and Pakistan, Central Asia, and the Middle East during Ramadan. Since then he has produced documentaries in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Where: Across Asia
Why: To see everything
Robbie’s Backstory: At 18, while most of my high school friends had left for college, I was stuck in my hometown in the suburbs of Boston attending a pitiful community college and questioning my own banal existence.
Up to that point I had been young and naive about traveling. Being influenced solely by the local bookstore’s travel section, I had always assumed you picked one or two countries and invested the time and money for them
I soon quit college. A soul-searching trip to Israel led to nothing but a job as a busboy in bustling Tel Aviv. The live/work abroad deal wasn’t glamorous but it beat wasting hours away with the other slackers that never left town and enlightened me to opportunities elsewhere in the world.
At Potala Palace, in Lhasa, Tibet (Photo: Robbie Sokolowsky)
The Day I Met My Inspiration: At 19, I traveled to the Javanese jungle of Indonesia and found myself in a small hotel at the foot of Borobuder. At sunset as I was sipping on lemon tea and chain-smoking Kretek cigarettes, I saw a six-foot bronzed man dripping of sweat enter the main room with a backpack and a bicycle. I asked where he was coming from. “Germany” he said. Thinking he must have misunderstood the question, I rephrased it: “Where are you coming from on the bike?” “Germany,” he answered again. He had been on the road for 15 months, and nothing but the muscle of his legs and his willpower got him to the place he was standing. Meeting Yann changed my travel philosophy and my life trajectory.