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Thane to Thailand: How this Mumbai journalist went globe-trotting

From working as a teacher, yoga instructor, volunteer, masseuse and receptionist, to looking at crowd-funding options - he survived on a tight budget, minimal food, and the kindness of strangers.

mumbai Updated: Mar 28, 2019 01:01 IST
Jonita Colaco
Jonita Colaco
Hindustan Times
mumbai,thailand,thane
Vishnudas Chapke, the son of a Marathwada farmer, has travelled to 35 countries in three years.(HT Photo)

Three years, 35 countries and a dozen odd jobs to fund his journey — this journalist, the son of a Marathwada farmer, has travelled a long way since he boarded his first train at the Thane railway station.

On March 19, 2016, Vishnudas Chapke, 36, left home on a short, two-month vacation. “I wanted a break and something adventurous. My plan was to visit Kolkata, Assam, Manipur, Myanmar and Thailand,” says Chapke. In Thailand, Chapke met a friend who decided to use her first salary to sponsor his trip to Davos. “That’s how it all began,” says Chapke.

With help from crowd-funding sources, Chapke went on to visit four continents, finding work as a teacher, yoga instructor, volunteer, masseuse and receptionist, among other odd jobs. He survived on a tight budget, minimal food, and the kindness of strangers, he says.

“With a budget of just about $8 to $12 a day, I did odd jobs in exchange for meals. I ate minimal food or survived on salads, so I could keep travelling,” Chapke says. There were obstacles, but Chapke found a way out.

“While hitch-hiking at most places, people were kind, but not always,” he says. He remembers being mugged on the Chile-Argentina border in February 2017. “I was crossing over from Chile to Argentina. A man offered me a lift but took me to the wrong place. He threatened me with a knife, took my mobile phone and the $20 that I had on me, and the matter was settled,” he says.

Chapke also found a way to give back to the places he was visiting, planting saplings wherever he could. “The first sapling I planted was on the India-Myanmar border,” he says. “Throughout my journey, in exchange for free stay, I would plant saplings at the hosts’ places.”

In 2017, when a series of wildfires was burning Chile, Chapke travelled to the country to volunteer. “I could not communicate in their language so they refused to let me help. But I was adamant,” he says. “I started giving massages to the fire-fighters who were working 12 hours a day to put out the blaze. It was my way of giving back.”

On March 15, 2019, almost exactly three years since he first set out, Chapke returned to the India-Myanmar border. And, as journeys tend to do, this one has Chapke wanting more.

But first, he wants to write a book about his adventure. “I hope to donate the revenue from the book to the farmers of my home state.”

First Published: Mar 28, 2019 01:01 IST