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Pedalling to Bangkok

THE ASIAN AGE. | DYUTI BASU
Published : Aug 2, 2017, 12:56 am IST
Updated : Aug 2, 2017, 12:56 am IST

A duo from Mumbai cycled all the way from Maximum city to Bangkok in just 60 days.

Prashant Mahajan and Chidambaram Vijay Kumar ( Photo: Aanchal Dhara)
 Prashant Mahajan and Chidambaram Vijay Kumar ( Photo: Aanchal Dhara)

Caught in the daily grind of city living, one often forgets what it is like to take in a breath of fresh air, free of smoke, or to wake up each day to a new adventure. Ad filmmaker Prashant Mahajan and his wife Aanchal Dhara, who is a photographer by profession, decided to break out of their moulds and take on the world, one adventure at a time. Thus was born the Audacious Project. “We wanted to do things that would seem audacious to us — things that we had no prior experience in. For instance, a couple of years ago, Aanchal walked from Mumbai to Pune and this year, a friend and I cycled from here to Bangkok,” explains Prashant.

Moments from their journey (Photo:Aanchal Dhara)Moments from their journey (Photo:Aanchal Dhara)

It is this trip, spanning 60 days and 5,883 km, from Gateway of India to Bangkok, undertaken by Prashant and his fellow cyclist, Chidambaram Vijay Kumar, that put them in the record books as the first Indian pair to have made such a journey. Aanchal and Prashant recently released a short film on their journey. Titled Letters to My Son, the film documents the journey and imparts life lessons for a yet-unborn child. 

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“The journey turned out to be so much more than anything any of us had expected. We saw so many different places, every six days or so, we would be in a different place, with different landscapes, different food, different people. It was an amazing experience,” says Prashant. 

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Of course, it’s not just the sights that account for the memories associated with a place, but also the people. Prashant recalls meeting a number of interesting people on the journey. Some would join the cyclists for a few hours or a day, and pedal alongside them for a short while. Others would simply help them out with bike maintenance or other necessities. “Some of the most lovely people that we encountered were in Myanmar. As a country that’s only recently become a democracy and opened up its economy, it’s not yet become very populated with tourists. The people are very welcoming of visitors and very helpful. Since being in that country, I have recommended it to all my friends,” he laughs. 

aPrashant’s bike tour, which started in February and ended in April, covered the countries of India, Myanmar and Thailand. While the changing sceneries and cultures were a delight, Prashant also remembers the hardships of having to travel through drastic climate changes. “The drastic changes in climate were perhaps the most challenging aspect of our journey. There were days when we started out in the morning when it was close to 12 or 13 degrees and by afternoon it would rise to 36 and 37 degrees. We had an especially hard time as spring started to make way for summer. There were days when we would have to rest in the afternoons and then travel late into the night, only to wake up early the next day and continue. Those were some tough times,” he recalls.

aDespite everything though, Prashant has no regrets. In fact, he and Aanchal are already planning their next adventure. “This time round, we want to attempt something together. The first journey was hers and I went along with her to offer support. This time round, it was the opposite and she went along and took some amazing photographs of our journey. But next time, we’d like to go for an adventure together. Though nothing is concrete, we’re thinking of setting up our third Audacious project sometime next year,” he signs off.

Tags: prashant mahajan, aanchal dhara