RIYADH: In a world of routine and conformity, it takes a free spirit to break away from the chains of convention and embark on a journey of self-discovery. Rakan Al-Mogbil, a nomad from Saudi Arabia, is one such individual who chose to abandon the comfort of his settled life and explore the world in 400 days.
Al-Mogbil, who is showcasing his first book “Lost on the Map” at the Riyadh International Book Fair, told Arab News: “Being here is amazing because I get to tell my story at one the biggest book fairs in the Middle East.”
Speaking about the premise of his book, he said: “’Lost on the Map’ is a true story about how I sold my car and (left) everything behind just to travel and explore the world. I traveled more than 400 days in a row without coming back to my country and visited more than nine countries.”
Al-Mogbil said that leaving behind his family, job and possessions was challenging — and with a mere $800 monthly budget. Despite the obstacles, Al-Mogbil embraced a life of constant movement, seeking to unravel the mysteries of different cultures and landscapes.
“I did a lot of hitchhiking between countries. I traveled 1,500 km from Bangkok in Thailand to Malaysia with only hitchhiking.”
Being on a tight budget, Al-Mogbil did not use any costly means of transport, such as busses, rental cars or airplanes.
His journey included some bumps along the way: “Some people in some countries threatened me. I’m not going to mention more, but you’re going to find out in the book.”
Through encounters during his travels, he has come to recognize the common thread that binds humanity despite any superficial differences. “I always say travel for the people, not the places, because people will leave, but the places will remain,” he said.
“One of the stories is about my time in Mexico where I lived on a ranch for three months and found a lot of similarities between Mexican and Arab cultures.”
He said that Mexicans’ hospitality and kindness is similar to Arabs.
Al-Mogbil discovered his love for traveling by chance: “After I traveled to South Africa to study English, I fell in love with traveling just as COVID-19 hit and I had to go back home to Saudi Arabia.”
However, once the travel restrictions eased, he drew up a plan: “I then decided that I was going to quit my job, sell my car, and just continue exploring because there are always places in the world to see.”
He said that one day he hopes to translate his book into other languages such as English and Spanish.