How many of us have made our job an excuse for not travelling much? This Indian doctor has travelled to 68 countries in the past five years, going as far as to North Korea. He can very well be considered India's very own Walter Mitty. Dr. Jigar Barasara has skydived in New Zealand, bungee jumped in Thailand, surfed in Bali, scuba-dived in the Great Barrier Reef and Boracay, rode aboard a chopper in Dubai, trekked across Markha Valley in Ladakh and has lived out several other outstanding adventures.
Let us get more insight into the inspiring life of Dr. Barasara.
Hi Jigar, your journey is very awe-inspiring! Please tell the Tripoto community more about yourself.
I am in my early thirties and a doctor by profession. I grew up in a conventional middle-class family in Jamnagar, Gujarat. As a kid, I was a very studious boy and was also into sports and other extracurricular activities in school. And as it is in India, right after my 12th grade I took admission in a medical college in my home city. Now, I work in Rajkot.
When did you go for your first solo trip abroad and how was your experience?
I went for my first solo trip abroad almost five years ago. I had finished my graduation and was able to save some money. I went to Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand on that trip. The experience was superb, and since then I have been travelling solo.
How many countries have you been to since then and what was your longest time on the road?
I have travelled to 68 countries till date. Since the last four years, I have been making two international trips a year – one in summer and another in winter and I keep going for short adventure trips in India quite often. My longest trip was for two months this summer. I had quit my private job and switched to a government one, so I could get two vacations per year. I prefer travelling over a period of time while keeping my job rather than quitting it to travel.
You have travelled to 68 countries. Wow! I know it is a huge number, but can you name all of them in the order of visiting them?
Sure, here goes!
Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, UAE, Kenya, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy, Vatican city, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand, Jordan, Israel, England, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Hungary, Polland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Oman, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Lichtenstein, Austria, Greece, Bahrein, South Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Luxembourg, Cuba, Equador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Ethiopia, China, North Korea, United States Of America, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Iceland and Croatia.
Did any particular event in your life inspire you to become a traveller?
I think it is not any particular event, but rather a combined outcome of several events. I always loved travelling; I used to go on treks with my friends in college and also on several family trips. But backpacking always intrigued me, when I saw foreigners travelling long-term in India by themselves. I used to wonder, how do they manage to travel for such long periods by themselves. Don't they get bored? I never thought I could do it ever, my first solo trip was a chance event. When I first planned my backpacking trip abroad, it was along with two friends who had backed out later. I had two choices to either cancel the plan or to go solo. I thought it is only for three weeks, so I gave it a try. I was very scared in the beginning thinking about the bad incidents that can happen to tourists abroad. But now I can say, it was the best decision I ever made.
How did you fund your travels?
It is no rocket science, I simply save some money from my earnings to travel. I believe in balancing things, be it money or the way of life. I don’t believe in saving a lot in fixed deposits or investing in property, meanwhile I do not spend everything I earn. I don't like routine life, but I also don’t fancy becoming a full-time wanderer. I have always travelled with the money I earn from my profession as a doctor.
Is there any traveler who inspires you?
I think all the people I have met during my travels inspire me to keep travelling. It is such an amazing feeling to get to know about their unique journey and learn about their culture. Everybody has such a different way t0 travel, perspectives about life and I get to learn a lot.
I know every country is unique in its own way and it is very difficult to narrow it down to one. So, if given a chance to make any country in the world home, which country you would choose?
This is a certainly a tough question to answer. In a hypothetical world, I would not like to make any particular place my home and will keep travelling forever. But still, if I had to choose I think it would be Australia or Russia or Colombia or Rio De Janerio or.... but let's keep it as India for the moment :D
Where did you find the most friendly people who made you feel at home?
I found Japanese people to be the most friendly. I had a great time in Russia, people there were very friendly as well. Aussies are the coolest, you just have to say ‘cheers mate’. So are the Africans, who always have a smile and are very friendly.