Meet our wanderer, Arun, a self-confessed petrolhead. An auto journalist at ZigWheels, Arun loves motorcycles & Diecast. A certified foodie, he appreciates good music and exploring new destinations, preferably on two-wheels.
1) What got you hooked to travelling?
Ever since I was a kid, I would always look forward to family vacations as it was a great opportunity to bond with my parents and make new friends along the journey. As I grew up, travelling to new destinations meant I could indulge in varied cuisines and since I am a born foodie, I always look forward to trying new local cuisines wherever I go. Last but not least is the history part, every city or town has its own colourful past and interesting story which is intriguing to me.
2) Which is your favourite travel destination? Why?
Since motorcycles is my passion, any destination that has great twisting roads makes them appealing for myself. Just for the joy of riding, I will rank Bhutan highly as you are welcomed by butter smooth tarmac winding through beautiful mountains and it is a place where you would relish driving or riding. And if you’re a more adventurous kind of person, I will highly recommend a trip to Muktinath temple in Mustang Valley, Nepal. The terrain is hostile and it will test your mettle, but absolutely worth it and don’t forget to enjoy the natural hot water springs in Tatopani on your way. Also, I am a beach person and just fell in love with the pristine coastline of Andaman islands and will urge everyone to visit this heaven on earth soon before commercialization ruins its beauty.
3) Which is your least favourite travel destination? Why?
Most of the metro cities in India and popular tourist places. I feel these destinations have been over done and over commercialized. Also, when I am on a vacation, I need peace and tranquillity as being from Mumbai which runs at the speed of light, I prefer a place where I can sit back and relax.
4) Scariest thing that happened to you while travelling?
I and few friends of mine were riding down to Goa and were caught unaware by thunderstorms on the outskirts of Sawantwadi. It was pouring heavily and low visibility meant we had to take shelter underneath an old abandoned hut. We were stuck there for more than an hour and to add to our woes there was no network or any person nearby. Once the rain had subdued a bit, we started riding cautiously on the back roads drenched completely with hardly any visibility as the sun had set. Luckily for use we made it through without any unwanted incident. The above experience gave me an important lesson, always check the expected weather before venturing out for a ride.
5) Weirdest thing you did?
I am usually a very reserved type of person, but, on my first trip to Barcelona, I tried flamenco dancing on stage with the professionals. Although, I was completely offbeat, but I had a gala time and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
6) Which is you favourite travel photo? Why?
The one I clicked on the Valencia race track. I have been a MotoGP (a type of motorcycle racing) fanatic ever since I was a teenager and used to religiously watch every race on weekends. So, when I finally got the opportunity to see a race live, it was magical. I had access to the press area which was above the pit boxes of riders, but, I chose to sit with the Spanish fans in the grand stand and cheer for my favourite rider Valentino Rossi. The fact that I accomplished my life-long dream of witnessing a MotoGP race live still remains amongst the most happiest moments of my life.
6) Must have packing item?
Chocolates and water. Most of my journeys are on a motorcycle and somehow whenever I am riding, I don’t prefer to eat much as it makes me lazy . Chocolate bars are a good source of energy and are easy to carry as well, so whenever I ride or travel, I make sure to carry some Snickers bars. Also, it is easy to dehydrate while riding a motorcycle as you try to avoid halting and this kind of drains you especially in our harsh summer conditions. I carry a 2-litre hydration pack filled with water and sometimes add electral powder to keep me hydrated while riding without taking any extra halts.
7) Favourite travel experience?
There have been many sweet memories but the one that really left a mark was in Bhutan. I had fallen off my bike and the bike was in an unrideable condition. I was stranded on the outskirts of a remote village and was tired and dehydrated. There were no shops around so I had no option but to wait till the backup vehicle arrived. Suddenly, one kid who was around 10-12 years old walked towards me and gave me a bottle of Coke. I was a bit surprised and gave him money for the drink, which he refused. He didn’t speak English, but gestured that I was injured and that I should keep the drink and just walked away. I am pretty sure the value of the drink for that kid would have been much higher, but his generosity and kindness touched me and still today I get goosebumps thinking of that experience.
8) Your dream vacation?
It is hard to say just one. My dream vacation will be riding across Europe on a motorcycle. Have been lucky enough to ride on some gorgeous Spanish mountain roads and I feel they are the best roads to ride on the planet and also a great medium to explore and make new friends.
9) Any upcoming trips?
Given my hectic work schedule, I haven’t really decided anything yet. But, I plan to go to Indonesia and Thailand for sure this year. And, if everything pans out maybe Australia. Also given my profession as an automotive journalist, few surprise tours are perks of the job.