This is the first and last time I’ll be paragliding for a long while! Never again will I go through that misery. I should have prepped myself better.
Let me explain.
On Sunday, Emre, Tané, Alexis, Jess, and I were scheduled to paraglide over the mountains. None of us have ever went paragliding before so we were all pretty pumped for it. Nepal is one of the best places in the world to do so. It’s hard to beat soaring near the Himalayas!
Something like this would be concerning for my extremely sensitive motion sickness, but I thought I would be okay. I skydived numerous times and there were parts where we’d glide through the air and I’d feel fine, save for that one time in Cape Town where I felt like I was going to hurl, but that’s only because I didn’t eat anything. I learned my lesson the next couple of times. Anyways, I figured this would be okay too, as long as I ate something beforehand.
We were scheduled to get picked up at 11:00am but decided to get some breakfast beforehand at Perky Bean’s, our usual hangout spot. If you want to find the biggest, baddest, milkshakes in Pokhara, Perky Bean’s is the place to do. They are massive, delicious, and best of all, cheap! I ordered a vanilla banana milkshake along with potato chapati wraps. Mmmmmm Mmmm!! I devoured that along with finishing off Tané’s and Alexis’s half-eaten plates. One might say I ate too much food. This was mistake number one.
Shortly afterwards, we were picked up in a minivan that took us up to Sarangkot, which is a place close to where I lived on the mountain.
Why didn’t I take a motion sickness pill for the ride up? This was big mistake number two. After about a half hour in the van up the mountain, I felt like I just entered a bad hangover. That’s actually the perfect way to describe how I feel when I get sick from the motion, like a bad hangover. But there is a positive to this. Once my feet are on solid ground, it usually takes a good hour for me to start feeling back to normal. I thought I’d have time up here, but I thought wrong…again.
Almost immediately after arriving at the take-off point, we were all separated and partnered up with our tandem glider. I don’t remember my guy’s name but he didn’t give off a very enthusiastic vibe. I introduced myself and immediately he started strapping me in my harness.
“When I say walk, start walking”, he said to me while tightening my gear. “And when I say run, keep running. Don’t stop, okay?”
“Got it!” I replied.
Paragliding is a serious thing so I thought we would go over it a bit before we actually took off, but nope. We stood on the hill and started walking and then…
“Run, run, run!” he shouted while attached to me from behind.
I ran as fast as I could. Even when we started to lift in the air, I kicked my legs as if I were doing the aerial running man. Then he said something to me, that I couldn’t understand. It sounded like he said “Put your hand here” as he touched the lines above me. So I put my hands where he said and he proceeded to yell at me, not to do that.
“I don’t know what you’re saying!” I shouted back.
He said something to me again which I still couldn’t understand so I just remained still and didn’t touch anything. He didn’t say a word after that.
The view from the air was terrific, however I was already feeling queasy. There was a long period of silence up there between me and my tandem partner so I tried to make small talk. I asked him a question he’s probably been asked a thousand times.
“So…how long have you been paragliding for?” I asked.
No response. Maybe he didn’t hear me. I noticed there was a device of some sort attached to my right shoulder that would beep in short or long bursts depending on the altitude.
“What’s this attached to my shoulder?” I asked him.
He gave a short, mumbled response that I couldn’t understand and didn’t say a single word to me from then on. That’s when I realized my guy was having a really bad day or he was simply just a douchebag. I felt nauseous up there. I hope you can understand how uncomfortable I was.
Us gliders had two options when we booked this paragliding: either a half hour or a whole hour. I chose a whole hour but regretted it when I was just five minutes in the air. Yes, the gliding was amazing. It really was! But I felt like I was gonna vomit at any moment the whole time, so I couldn’t really enjoy it fully. Plus my unfriendly tandem partner wasn’t really helping the cause, he was actually flying higher and higher up!
“Hey, you can start going down now. I’m not feeling too well,” I said to him.
“The winds aren’t too good,” he replied.
I didn’t know what that had to do with me going down but at least I got some sort of response out of him. We were still pretty high up and at one point higher up then all the other gliders and the mountains nearby. I didn’t know that paraglides could actually elevate! I always thought it was just a slow glide descent down, and down only. Along my left strap, there was a plastic bag tucked away in a small pocket. I pulled it out in preparation of the inevitable. It was a long way down and there’s no way I could hold it in any longer. Then, it happened. Everything I ate this morning came back up: the potato chapati wrap, the vanilla banana milkshake, Tané’s leftovers, Alexis’s leftovers, it all came out. My featherweight bag suddenly weighed three pounds and I had to carry it and all it’s warmth between my legs the whole way down. How fun would it have been to drop the bag bomb on an unsuspecting truck or house from the air?
I felt better for a minute, but as we started to descend, I started to feel whoozy again. My stomach was empty. What left did I have to give? My partner glided towards the landing point and began to twirl the parachute in a downward spiraling tornado. This was the worst ride ever!
Upon landing, I waited for my guide to tell me what to do with my legs and feet.
“Legs up,” he said.
I was really, really glad to be closer to ground and rose my legs as we slid. I guess at one point I’m supposed to catch the ground on my feet but he didn’t direct me to and I could tell he was a little annoyed. I just wanted to get rid of this bag of puke I had to carry.
Alexis and Tané only did the half hour flight, so they were already on the ground when I landed, but I only landed a couple of minutes after them. Emre and Jess landed soon after. All their guides were smiles and high fives. My guide peace’d out as soon as he detached himself from me.
I highly recommend paragliding to anyone and everyone but just don’t eat as much as I did beforehand, do take a motion pill, and make sure you have a good guide. Guides can really make or break an activity like this. Tané was all smiles the whole time after. Her guide was awesome and would joke around and laugh with her while in the air. He also took great photos and videos. My guide didn’t do squat and I had to do everything myself.
If I ever go paragliding again, I’m taking 3 motion sickness pills beforehand and I’m going to have to make sure my guide isn”t another robot.
Back up to the village we go! I was looking forward to see the Thapa family and all the students again!