The People We Meet

The People We Meet

As the time gets closer to me heading off on my trip to walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall and do some wild walking in the windswept Orkney Islands, I can’t help but sometimes ask myself why I travel as much as I do. Why on earth do I feel compelled to wander far from my home turf and take on what, to many others, is unnecessary strenuous treks when I could be lounging around a pool, sipping cocktails in a luxury resort. Basically, that’s just not my type of holiday. Don’t get me wrong there will be some relaxing and there will be cocktails and wine and good food, but the majority of the time I’ll be hiking and self-catering and coping with whatever the place throws at me. As I train I’m spending a lot of time walking, I’m generally by myself with only my playlist pumping through my headphones, so I get to do a lot of thinking. I can become quite introspective at times and get all psychoanalytical with myself if I’m not careful. Through all the thinking and the analysing and the talking to myself though, I don’t think I’ve come up with a definitive answer yet as to why I enjoy doing something a little bit out of the ordinary. There’s lots of reasons – scenery, culture, lifestyle, but I think that most times that I travel, it’s the locals who have made the biggest impression on me. During my treks in to Everest Base Camp the Nepalese people really made the experience so much better, they are such a genuinely warm and welcoming nation. Travelling...
Walk With Me: An Evening in the Himalayas

Walk With Me: An Evening in the Himalayas

As you know, because I’ve told you on several occasions, I do a lot of walking. And when I say walking I don’t mean a stroll around the park, I’m talking the hiking and trekking type of stuff, sometimes in rather challenging situations. What you also know, if you’ve read my previous blog post, is that I’m making it my mission this year to take you all along with me on my hiking trips. I’ve launched my Walk With Me project which you can read all about here and which will see me dragging you along with me as I train for and then undertake my hikes in 2018. As part of that project I’ve got something special planned for the people of Perth (sorry non-Perth peeps but I’m always open to a bit of enticement from other parts of the globe), I’m going to be running a series of Walk With Me evenings where I’ll be letting you in on some of my adventures – my treks in Nepal, the UK and Australia. A Date For Your Diary The first of these evenings will be coming up on Wednesday 21st March and will be: Walk With Me: An Evening in the Himalayas. Join me for this special evening as I walk you through the stunning scenery of my two treks to Everest Base Camp. Hear about the highs, the lows, the struggles, the challenge and the unexpected and traumatic event that was to change my life. If you’ve ever considered heading up into the Himalayas, if you’ve been before and want to relive those memories or if you...
Everest Base Camp Trek – what to take.

Everest Base Camp Trek – what to take.

I wrote a version of this blog post a few years ago but I’ve had a few people quizzing me lately on what to take on an Everest Base Camp trek so I thought I’d update it a bit. We’re all very different when we travel and we all have different things that we consider necessities, but I do think that when you’re doing something as extreme as trekking 5,500 kms up in the Himalayas, basically as high as you can go without becoming a mountaineer, and particularly when you’re heading there for the first time, it’s time to consider taking note of what those who’ve done it have to say on the subject. I certainly don’t claim to be any kind of expert but, having been up there twice I do know the things that I couldn’t have done without and things that, although not necessities, made life a little easier. 1. The right boots. Logical really. This is the most important purchase you’ll make when you’re planning this big trip, your life will be miserable if you have problems with your feet way up there in the mountains of Nepal. So, a few tips on buying boots: – Don’t rush into buying the first pair you try on, try different brands and different sizes – they all fit differently. – Try them on with the socks that you’ll be wearing. – Spend plenty of time walking around the shops in them and if they have a ramp in the shop (as most good gear shops do) use it and make sure there’s no slipping. – Check the...
Adventure Travel – Why?

Adventure Travel – Why?

Adventure travel has become so much more available in recent years and more people are heading off to undertake more extreme adventures. As I plan my next adventure, hiking the length of Hadrian’s Wall and a bit of wild hiking in the Orkney Islands, I’ve been considering the whole question of why some of us do the adventurous/extreme things that we do? Why do we push ourselves to the limit and sometimes beyond that limit? And do we actually enjoy the stress and the pressure that we put our bodies and our minds under? I mean it would be so much easier to just stay in nice hotels and hire a car or catch a train and see all the sights that everyone else sees when they visit. But oh, so much more boring. I recently did one of those random quizzes that you get on social media, I don’t normally do them but this one piqued my interest, it was travel related. My results (taken with a pinch of salt obviously) indicated that I was an Active Explorer,  so pretty accurate really. But as to the why of it all, why I want to do something a little out of the ordinary when many others are quite happy to take it easy on holiday, well, the answer escapes me. I don’t think there’s any straightforward answer to these questions. In April 2015 I completed my second trek to Everest Base Camp, it was a more difficult trek than the first, there was a lot more ‘weather’ to contend with, we had a diem horribilis when the heavy snow...
Lukla Airport – up in the clouds.

Lukla Airport – up in the clouds.

When I made the decision to trek to Everest Base Camp to celebrate my 60th birthday in 2013 I don’t really think that I thought it through, it was one of those ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ moments. As it turned out it was one of the most exhilarating and rewarding things I’ve ever done and it challenged me in ways that I certainly hadn’t anticipated, but initially I didn’t realise what I would be in for. Then I did some research and, talking to myself as much as anyone else, it was a case of, remind me again why I’m doing this. I think I made my first mistake in planning the trip when I delved into the Wikipedia site on the airport at Lukla. Not a good idea as it turns out. Sometimes I just don’t know when to stop, because then I made my second mistake, I watched U Tube footage of a plane taking off from Lukla airport. Google maps showing the terrain really didn’t help either. Lukla is the starting point of several treks in the region and to get there requires a short flight from Kathmandu in a Twin Otter aircraft.   World expeditions, in their blurb, describe it as ‘a memorable flight with amazing views’. I didn’t doubt it for one minute. Notice the mountains in the picture? Well the pilot, of a tiny aircraft, needs to navigate his way around those mountains, banking and descending through several layers of cloud and mist, apparently without the help of landing aids, using just his own keen sense of sight...
Nepal is open for business.

Nepal is open for business.

As some of you may know I was in Nepal when the country was rocked by the major earthquake on 25th April this year. I’d completed my trek and was sitting in the lobby of my hotel when the earth, quite literally, moved and it’s not an experience I’d ever want to repeat. When I got back to Australia I struggled for some time to come to terms with what had happened. I struggled with my own personal experience, yes, but also with the enormous impact that this disaster had on a country that I’d come to love and it’s people, who had been devastated by such an enormous loss of lives and the destruction of buildings and ancient monuments. Apart from families having to come to terms with the loss of loved ones, the major impact of this disaster has come from the downturn in their major form of income – tourism. Thousands of Nepalese families derive their income from tourism, from housing, clothing, feeding and guiding the trekkers and mountaineers who have descended on the area, in increasing numbers, every year since Sir Edmund Hillary stood on the summit of Mt Everest over sixty years ago. In the aftermath of the earthquake bookings for upcoming treks were cancelled and operators have struggled to entice people back for the trekking season about to begin. A family that I have become close to had their home damaged and were not able to move back in, they are now living in a tent. The father is a school teacher but his school was too badly damaged and has not reopened,...
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