Skydiving Experience

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I opted for tandem jump. On the assigned day, I reached Mysore airport. Staff from Kakini enterprises, organizers of the skydiving arrived later. There were about a dozen participants that day and my turn was at the end. That day’s group had few air force personnel and some adventure seekers like me. Those performing static dive had to undergo training previous afternoon and clear a test that morning, before instructor felt confident that they’re good to go. (Static dive is done without instructor, hence students should be familiar with emergency operations). A small Cessna would take participants up, one at a time. Watched others dive and eagerly waited for my turn. After each dive the parachute is repacked and readied for next jump.

By Mid day my turn came, all decked up in a red suite we boarded the cessna. My instructor, Rajan, demonstrated how to step out of the plane when in mid air. Another instructor got on board to record the precious life moments of my dive. Fitted with a goPro and a video camera on his helmet, he would jump with us to capture the memorable moments of free fall!

Cessna is like a TVS XL50- takes its own sweet time to climb up. Fighter jets take 30 seconds to reach 10000 ft, while Cessna 172 took full 30 mins. As the pilot took permission from ATC and became airborne, I enjoyed viewing Mysore airport and nearby places from high above.

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Biking across Northern Thailand- Part 1

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What was supposed to be a 400km ride turned out to be a late night biking expedition covering 530kms, as we rode 60+kms in wrong direction. All was well till noon, when we stopped for lunch at Mae Sariang. Post lunch, we should have taken Route 105, instead we continued on Route 108. A few display said this road heads to Chiang Mai and that didn’t ring a bell to any of us. Only later, our pilot Sumon pulled over, cross checked his map, consulted our support team (who had take right turn) and decided that we need to go back. Without a whim we rode back all the way to  the city where we had lunch. We should have added another 200 curves to our count by then,  because of this extra ride.

It was evening by now and we still had another 230kms to cover. We fuelled up and began riding, this time in the right direction.
Soon it became darker and suddenly, we found ourselves on dirt track. This feels like India- we told ourselves. Our speed dropped to single digit and we negotiated the bad road slowly, maintaining gap between bikes to let the dust settle. We were very close to Burma border, with our road running parallel to it. There were hardly any vehicles other than hours and there were no lights or shops or anything else. Pitch dark, deep forest and 100 more kms to go.

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Wagah border beating retreat ceremony

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Not sure if there’re any celebrations when the flags are hoisted in the morning. As we came out, a bunch of people had blocked the road and were protesting against something.

It was a memorable event to witness. A better seating and proper visitor management would have made it even great. To quote an example, world trade centre memorial in New York has an online pass system. Only specific number of people are let in every day at designated timing.

To conclude: Evening ceremony at Wagah is a must visit experience if you’re going to Punjab. If possible, get a  VIP pass. If that doesn’t work out, give the camera to women in your team- they will have better visibility and can take better pics. Water and refreshments are available inside, but when the ceremony is in progress you may not be able to walk out and buy something. Post ceremony you can refresh yourself. Photos, DVDs, souvenirs are all available for sale. Mobiles will NOT work in the border. So if your loved ones are separated from you because of gender or crowd, you need to have a meeting place pre-decided- like in front of the washroom or near the car etc, to avoid confusion and panic.

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Biking across Thailand – Bridge over the river kwai

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After our brief encounter with wild cats concluded, we headed to River Kwai bridge. River Kwai bridge was constructed under Japanese command during world war 2, to enable Japanese troops to cross across Thailand to Burma and eventually India. Thousands of PoW (Prisoners of wars) were deployed for construction work, without adequate food, rest or medical care. This resulted in deaths in thousands and being alive for one more day was a luxury at that time. Our generation isn’t really exposed to such life and death hardships and all we complain about is traffic, high fuel prices and slow internet. But life back then was very different. A visit to the museum and war memorial will remind us of harsh realities of life in the times of war. River Kwai bridge stands as a testimony to the fact that thousands had to die to satisfy greed of few emperors. The movie by its name, which was pictured in Srilanka has made this bridge immortal.

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