On our previous trip to Nepal we had become interested in the sport of paragliding and its apparently effortless promise of graceful flight without a motor and without the shovel-fulls of cash that we did not have. Nepal seemed like the ideal starting point and we found further justification in our new trip aims. These aims had come about when we started to ask why we were being so rash as to drop all and spend vast amounts of money driving across the world that we could just as well have read about or taken in well-funded and air conditioned chunks sometime in our future.
Part of the answer lay in the kick we both get out of travelling, of gathering new experiences, new knowledge and new perspectives from new people met along the way – there is no room for malaise in this riot of change. Part also lay in the challenge we both enjoy in formulating means of shifting ourselves and our Landy into locations and situations we would both like to find ourselves – this has a sub-pleasure in understanding a little of international boundaries and the relationship between nations. Our Landyvan adds to this pleasure beyond its simple practicality by increasing the challenge, slowing the transition between cultures, providing a point of interest for others and of opening up interactions with people that other means of travel do not normally encourage – hardware stores, like grocery stores are the foundation for any local economy and we are big fans of the friendly local mechanic. 
Finally, we realized that we could not  travel indefinitely and so had begun to see our trip as an opportunity to acquire new skills and make new resolutions that would still be a benefit when we finally got home: learning to paraglide was one of these. At least that was one of our more ambitious justifications for the detour, apart from that it just looked like fun. 

So we headed back to Pokhara and booked ourselves onto a course with Frontiers, a company we knew about from a couple of different acquaintances. It is run by Adam, the originator of paragliding in Nepal and someone that has managed to very effectively arrange a lifestyle and family around the sport and the people he loves. With Al, a friendly Scotsman, as our instructor the next 10 days became a steep learning curve. So steep that we were genuinely surprised to be asked to run off a hill, fly down 100m or so and land on only our third day. By the fourth day we were running off a genuine mountain 800m or so above our landing point and spending a good 15min or so in awe before coming into contact with the ground again, this against a backdrop of Himalayan peaks including the massive Annapurna range that were this time clear for all to see. By the end of our course we were beginning to extend our flight time by searching out thermals, chasing the various birds of prey that seemed so adept at finding these invisible plumes.
This is not to say that there were not incidents: our Singaporean policeman friend Shaffique found himself 26m up a tree when he got a little close to the terraces on the way down. From this, now amusing incident, our resolution was firstly to steer well clear of that great ground obstruction and secondly to limit ourselves to simple cross country flight into very large unobstructed fields and not to join the stunt-nutters of the air. 

Comments (1) Comments are closed
1 Tuesday, 18 May 2010 21:08
Matt S
Hi Ruth and Jonno,
Looks amazing. Actually Anne Alex Harry Ella and I were in Pokhara first and second week of April and trekked around Panchase Hill. What a beautiful, friendly place!

So where are you now? Do you need accommodation in Darwin?

Last Updated (Saturday, 19 June 2010 01:24)