Eudaimoniacs RTW Series: Leg 1 India (Kamshet) Day 49 to 61 – Thosai and Chai

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Paragliders from Kirzruba on Vimeo.

After our ordeal in Pune, we signed up for an impromptu 10-day paragliding course where we had the best 10 days of our lives.

Shah wrote an article for Temple Pilots Paragliding School. We thought this could sum up our experience in Kamshet.

“…refusing to adhere to the typical Singaporean life, we quitted our jobs and packed our backpacks to see if the grass was really greener on the other side.

We started off our trip with India or what we call ‘mini-earth’. From mountains to oceans, deserts to vast plantations, snow to hot, humid weather and everything else in between, it is of little wonder why Indians are so proud of India. Starting our trip in the state of Tamil Nadu, we went northwards to Karnataka and planned to take our advanced open water scuba diving course in Goa.  

Our enthusiasm was doused with disappointment because all water sports activities were temporarily suspended at the time we were there due to some ongoing issues with all water sports companies requiring government permits to operate their business. Googling online for a nearby adventure we could indulge in as a replacement, we found paragliding in Kamshet near Pune.    

We enrolled for a 3-day beginner’s paragliding course with Temple Pilots. At first we were strangers, the typical scenario you get in a new social setting. The bubbly Anita did not waste much time to break the ice. By the end of the first night, we were cracking jokes and feeling much at home with our coursemates.

Training was gruelling initially, with a lot of emphasis on both physical and mental endurance. But with the patient and accomodating instructors led by Avi, we were all making independent flights from a 175ft hill by the end of the course. However, the teasing surge of adrenaline made us hunger for more and we extended another 7 days to complete our certification course. That was when our eyes were opened to what paragliding REALLY is.    

Running off a 750ft hill made us yell our soul out to be one with the skies. Though it was just basic turning and soaring and nothing of the dangerous acrobatic stunts, adrenaline was flooding our veins. Coupled with mesmerisation for this new world, we forgot who we were. In one of those rare moments in life, we were one with the void. Our senses were overwhelmed with this new experience and we felt reborn.    

We felt like birds, amazing creatures soaring the skies being the envy of men. Aeroplanes make men fly but now we know what it feels like to have the wind brushing against your face, savouring the panaromic view without windshields, smelling the fragrance of the clouds and hearing the wind whispering its strength into our ears. In short, there was no turning back from falling in love with paragliding.    

Looking back at our pictures on Day 1 and at the end of the course, we observed a significant difference. We looked fitter and all our coursemates were glowing with confidence and positivity. To sum it up, it was a transformational journey for us that we did not expect. A famous quote says ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ but for me, i now say TIME IS FUN WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FLIGHT.”    

Through this sport, we have made some really good friends, the ones whom we look forward to have for a lifetime. Wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else.


Eudaimoniacs RTW Series: Leg 1 India (Pune) Day 45 to 48 – Thosai and Chai


The overnight sleeper bus from Goa to Pune was fun. Since Pune is located on the Deccan Plateau, we passed by some beautiful sceneries and the higher altitude gave us much relief from the warmer parts of India. Reaching the bus stand, it was the first time we have exeperienced cold in India at approximately 18 degrees celcius.

We booked a hotel near our alighting point in Pune for convenience sake since it was our the first day in a place we are not familiar with. However, we felt something amiss when there was no railway station nearby as indicated on our map. After 15 minutes, we found out that we were one hour away from Pune. We misinterpreted the driver saying this was the last stop in Pune rather than this was the last stop BEFORE we head for Pune.

Sleepy, hungry and in need of a toilet urgently, we were left with no choice but to hire an auto-rickshaw driver. We were happy we found one who would drive us using metered fare rather than proposing an inflated price. During the journey, the drivers were warm and friendly although i was quite suspicious why the auto-rickshaw had two drivers instead of one. What made it even fishier was that the assistant driver was casually placing his arm strategically to block out the fare price.

Feeling the cooling breeze on my face made me calm and appreciate everything that is happening so i was not really bothered with over-analyzing. About 45 minutes through the journey in the middle of the highway, the driver stopped on the side and told us to pay some money first.

The fare showed IDR 100. Then he took out a rickshaw conversion table and explained that in Pune, the meter needs to be multiplied according to the table. I thought it was fair since a 45 minute ride would cost about IDR 400. After doing some calculations using illogical formulas, the fare turned out to be IDR 3900, equivalent to SGD 90!!! That was just plain ridiculous!!!

We paid a total of IDR 1500 for a comfortable 12-hour bus ride and these guys are charging us IDR 3900 for a 45-minute rickshaw ride? It dawned on me that i was being conned for the first time in my life. I begged them to be reasonable but they countered with lame excuses knowing that we will eventually abide by their rules since we were trapped in the middle of a highway with our bulky luggages. In the end i unwillingly negotiated for IDR 3000 and they sent me near Pune’s border and got me another driver for IDR 100 to drive us to our hotel.

Reaching the hotel, we were given another lame excuse that the cheap room we booked online was unavailable. Too demoralized to argue, we gave in and paid extra for an upgraded room. After settling in, resting for a few hours and digesting all the unlucky streaks we were having, we set out to explore Pune. What we did not know at that point of time however, was that we stayed at Old Pune, which is the only part in Pune which is heavily congested, with nothing much to do or see.

After walking around for an hour or two, we were lost and took an auto-rickshaw back. Since he said it was a metered fare with no multiples, we hired him. After reaching our destination, the meter read IDR 50. I gave him IDR 100 since I had no change. He happily kept it in his pocket and prepared to drive off. I signalled to him about my change and he politely explained that we had to pay double for his return trip back to his base where he picked us up.

Enraged, both of us yelled at him, created a ruckus and threatened to call the embassy. Frightened, he threw the IDR 100 back at me and shouted some vulgarities in Marati and told me to get change at the hotel counter. After settling the fare, we went up to our room with an all-time low in our hearts since we left Singapore.

We both had enough of Pune, forgot all about our happy times in the other parts of India and made up our minds to just take the next flight out to Nepal. Unfortunately, Linda caught the flu bug despite having an immunisation jab which was supposed to last a year. The next 3 days were utter boredom and misery, imprisoned in our hotel rooms just watching TV (all praises to mankind for creating HBO and Star Movies!) We were on movie marathons for 3 days while Linda was recovering.

On the last day, Linda felt better and we met a friend we knew online through Couchsurfing. When we first met Rishi, he asked why we stayed in this part of Pune. Then he brought us around the other parts of Pune. Both of us were too dumbfounded to react when we learnt how the other parts of Pune was actually VERY pleasing to live in especially near the Osho Ashram at Koregaon Park.

Anyways, when we got back, we started researching online for plane tickets and things to do in Nepal. Accidentally stumbling upon Paragliding in Kamshet, a 2-hour ride from Pune, our luck finally gave us a break and decided to turn around on what would be one of the best 2-weeks of our lives!

The only picture worth taking in Pune – with our Couchsurfing saviour, Rishy.


Eudaimoniacs RTW Series: Leg 1 India (Goa) Day 37 to 44 – Thosai and Chai

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Gokarna is our favourite place so far during our exploration of India. Our intuitions however, commanded us to head further north to Goa. Packing our backpacks is a routine chore by now and we could get everything squeezed in one hour of what would usually have taken us half a day back home.

We chose a taxi ride instead of the cheaper alternative by bus for we were not confident to find our booked hotel by ourselves. Driving out of Gokarna was emotional. We felt the warmth and positivity slowly oozing out from us the further we went away from it. Something inside us longed to make a U-turn and just stay there until our visas expire. Fortunately, our driver, a fellow Muslim named Kareem, was chatty and he doubled up as a tourist guide telling us information about landscapes and buildings along the way.

The journey to Goa was dotted with magnificent sceneries of hills, valleys, small waterfalls, huge rivers meeting the Arabian Sea lecturing our souls on the water cycle and how our journey through life would end, eventually returning back to God. When we reached the border of Goa however, I was taken aback. Alcohol shops can be found every 5 minutes throughout the journey on the road.

The people here in general had plenty of arrogance painted on their faces but this could be due to the fact that most of the rich Indians prefer to spend their holidays here while the middle-class and poor opt for the much subdued Gokarna. Red-tanned Caucasians were everywhere and Indians were driving and riding more luxurious wheels compared to the other places we have seen here in India.

Calangute Beach and Baga Beach is very popular among both locals and tourists.

Food and lodging were highly inflated as well and for the first few days we only ate out once a day and cooked instant meals in our hotel room. But once we began to explore on a motorbike, we discovered that the cheaper hotels and shops hidden at the back of main roads and alleys were where the bargains and warm people were.

Since the food pricing is highly inflated in Goa, we decided to improvise. Lontong with Aloo Masala instant mix!

We were planning to take our advanced diving course here but it was a matter of bad timing as all water sports activities were banned temporarily until the Goa government pass on a new law about having a permit to deal in such business. Well, that really pissed the travel agencies. The diving operators think they would take at least a month or two to finalise the law so we had to cancel our diving plans and our Advanced Open Water diving license.

Other than exploring Goa on a bike and seeing their beaches in what I would say is WAY overrated compared to Gokarna, we were just following through motion to get the days going by before our next destination to Pune, where we have signed up for a Paragliding P1 course to get our Student Pilot license.

One of the places we somehow chanced upon while roaming with our bike. Welcome to the scenic Fort Aguada.