Archive for May, 2011

Trekking in Nepal – travel tips

Posted on May 24, 2011. Filed under: culture, Inspired Adventures, Nepal trek, personal leadership |

When travelling to a new country there are always lots of questions:

-what will it be like?

– what do I need to be alert for?

– what do I need to pack?

– what security questions should I have?

And the list goes on.

Luckily for me, my recent trip to Nepal was organised through Inspired Adventures who worked with a local group Royal Mountain Tours, so we got some pretty good briefing notes.

However there are always tips hat you pick up along the way and here are a few of mine – that should be applied over and above your own checks about security, medical advice and your own travel needs.

Take good socks and jocks – there is something to be said for comfy feet and comfy undies. I spent a lot of money on proper hiking underwear and it paid off. Despite lots of hours of trekking and walking through heavy rain I did not even get one blister or red mark on my feet. And there was no chafing from my undies either.

Use hand sanitiser – before and after every meal. And in between times. Germs are transmitted from hand to mouth and when you touch something you can pick up germs. No wonder I did not get even a slight tummy bug. Thanks for the tip.

Keep up the (bottled) water. In other countries, especially when exercising as hard as we were at times, maintaining water intake is vital.

Have a sip of a soft drink at each rest stop to get an energy burst but keep up the water. These regular little sugar hits along with energy bars and eating well were all part of me more than just surviving some tough days.

Check if you can use credit cards or need to take cash and your debit card. Too many of us assume that you can use credit cards pretty much anywhere you go nowadays – in most of Nepal that is not true. Cash is king. Check before you leave – and remember that carrying too much cash is not a good idea either. ATMs near our hotel in Kathmandu were secure to use – not all are that way.

Pack clothing for both your destination weather and your home weather – I used thermals when leaving and landing and for about 4 hours of the rest of the trip. It meant I was comfy at all stages and they really didn’t weigh too much. I also took a shawl that doubled as an extra blanket when I needed it.

Waterproof gear is not always waterproof – or should I say storm proof. We had some storm experience – get good gear, and pack your things inside plastic bags as well.

Always carry a clean and dry pair of socks and a shirt. When you get wet trekking you will appreciate the ability to put on a dry shirt and socks. Even when your shoes and pants are wet something dry picks up your spirits incredibly well.

Take extra plastic bags – they are great for packing wet or dirty items (including shoes)

Take extra big safety pins – they can be an emergency fix and also a portable washing line – several of us hiked with socks dangling off our packs.

If you journal – carry a clutch pencil as it saves running out of ink or needing to sharpen the pencil. Also carry a glue stick so you can glue in items as you go – saves work when you get home and keeps things in chronological order.

Carry toilet paper and tissues everywhere with you. You never know when you may need them and when you need them you need them!

Remember that it is a holiday, an out of the usual spectrum advanture. Things will be different to home – and not always in a good way. Accept it.

People will be different and may not speak your language – learn a little of theirs. Customs can vary – it is important to be respectful. For example, in Nepal always ask permission before taking somone’s photo. Always.

Fellow travellers may be tired, grumpy or missing home – be relaxed about it. You might be the same at times. Those moments pass. If you make a harsh or judgemental comment, the memory of your words will last longer than the ” spat”  that started it.

Hard times can make the best memories. Keep that in mind because the hard moments will pass but the memories will last.

Keep an open mind – you never know what you will experience.

Bartering is required and expected in many Asian countries. Embrace it and also be prepared to walk away if you feel you are paying too much. Do not compare what you paid with what someone else paid – ask yourself if you are happy with the item you bought and the price you paid. It is all relative.

Tipping is often expected – porters who carry your bag or waiters who do something extra for you (such as getting herbal tea rather than black tea) earn a tip. Have small notes with you at all times to be ready. Check in the country about what is a usual tip.

In Nepal many prices are quoted for food and drink excluding tax and tip/service chares – this can add almost 25% to your bill. If you expect it then you won’t be surprised.

Smile.

When travelling you are typically on holidays or an adventure of a lifetime.

For me who has always wanted to go to Nepal this trip was so much more than even a bucket list item. It has been incredible.

Having a few tips and being prepared helped me keep smiling and enjoying the journey – even at the hard moments.

Life is short. Live it well.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Trek to Nepal – been back for a week

Posted on May 19, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Well as most of you would know by now I arrived back in Australia last weekend from an incredible trip and trek in Nepal. Fifteen of us participated and together we raised $50,000 for Plan International – which is why we had the opportunity to visit two offices and some of the Plan projects while in Nepal.

This is where the trek and the preparation became real in a different sense. For me it was enlightening and wonderful to meet some of the people who are responsible for putting our funds to good use with local communities. And it was humbling to realise how much of a difference our contribution can and does make.

Plan International do not take huge amounts of donations for administration – they tell us that and we saw it by the basic offices and older vehicles they use. No flash new cars for the Plan staff – just functional and well maintained older vehicles. And the projects they support are all about empowering the community and the individuals within so they can help themselves. A truly sustainable approach. That is why I am incredibly proud of having taken part.

Sure it was tough for me to put in the physical effort and the money that I did to mostly self fund this trip. I am very grateful to those people who donated – and there were a few – and will be sending them a special thank you shortly. And yes the trek was physically and mentally demanding – long days, steep climbs and steep descents: we joke about “little bit up, little bit down” but at the time, having first your quads and then your calves burning is no joke. We all survived – I’m proud of everyone for that – and some of us want to do it again.

Nothing we experienced was anywhere near as tough as the lives being touched by Plan, and some who are not. It is astounding to know that many people in Nepal only have access to tap water once a week.

That people with access to water tamk storage are delighted to have access to 155 litres of water per family per week. That is how much Melbourne people were asked to reduce our daily per person water consumption to during the drought. I found that comparison humbling.

Human trafficking is still a very real and present activity in Nepal – children are taken, or “conned” from their families and sent  into other countries, often as circus performers – because the Nepalese are a small and strong race, great for acrobatics and contortionism. When or if they return it is with no money, limited connections and back into the poverty that they left behind. Projects that Plan assist with include interest free loans so individuals can start a shop or a farm with a view to paying back the initial loan in the first year and, more importantly, for their business to sustain them and also assist their community.

Average wages are like US$240 per year – can you imagine what the $50,000 our group of 15 people raised can do?

If you have not already done so, please donate something to http://gofundraise.com.au/page/MacdonaldP

And for me? Well I made some new friends, proved to myself that I have great endurance and stamina – physical and mental – and saw some incredible sights. Our path is a well worn one – used by trekkers, locals and mules alike. The paths are the thoroughfare for locals and we saw all manner of goods being carried – including a man with a timber single bed on his back – assembled!

Our highest point was 3200m, so not as serious as base camp of Everest or Anapurna. Yet still in altitude so my legs felt like lead – or maybe that was the 12 hour day of climbing! 🙂

At every point the scenery was incredible and so changing – rhododendron trees at one point, amazing waterfalls and rivers, incredible mountains and high country foilage. Such variety was not on my expectation list.

http://gofundraise.com.au/page/MacdonaldP

  

So many photos and so little justice done to the beauty of the country.

Physically the days were tough with early starts, tough walks and usually a very early night. Yet the visual spectacular consistently and continually reinvigorated me, and others, so that we were keen to go again the next morning. Our fabulous crew of guide, support and porters were tremendous during the days carrying our gear and chatting with us and then they turned their hand to being waiters to help the families running the tea houses we stopped at for lunch or overnight by taking our food and drink orders and bringing them out to us. Just a superb group of guys – thank you to each and every one of you from Royal Mountain Adventures.

Nepal – a beautiful country with many challenges.

If you can donate $10 or $20 please do so – $100 is enough to help a person to start a farming business that will sustain them and their family, enable their community and assist the population to become less reliant on overseas assistance.

http://gofundraise.com.au/page/MacdonaldP

Between us we can make a difference – and a difference that will enable people such as the locals I met to become more self sufficient. This is not about making them reliant on tourist dollars or foreign aid, it is a real opportunity to help people to help themselves.

And that is something that you all know I am committed to and passionate about.

A final word: when I signed up I thought I could do something good for others and get fit as well as fulfil a lifelong dream to go to Nepal.

I have done all of those things.

And so much more.

Nepal has touched my soul in a way I did not entirely expect.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...