It’s pretty simple really. Lots of places have great hiking, but Nepal has the greatest treks of them all. I was privileged to be invited on this trip, and ‘voluntourism’ was an excellent way to start. I can’t gush about this enough!
As we gasp for breath in the thin air above his village, Ang Tshering Sherpa tells us a story. When he was a little boy, his mother sent him up this mountain to tend the family yak. It was cold, so Ang sneaked some matches and lit a fire to keep warm. But the wind sent the blaze racing out of control, burning the whole hillside and bringing all the neighbours running to save their livestock.
Thirty years later, Ang has more than repaid his village for the trouble he caused them. At thirteen he became a mountain guide. Then when a grateful Australian client asked what his village most needed, Ang explained that the nearest medical help for many Sherpas was a gruelling 2-day walk away. Not only are there no roads here, there are no wheels. Sick or injured patients have to be carried on the back of man or beast.
Kushudebu Medical Centre. Photo - Rebecca Thornton
So funds were raised, and in 2006 the Kushudebu Medical Centre
opened, with Ang Tshering as its president, and support from organisations including Australian schools, travel company World Expeditions
and many individuals. It now treats over 10,000 patients a year, and pays for the medical training of young Nepalis who will be its future staff. We’ve just visited it, and we’re starting to realise we’re in an extraordinary place with a remarkable man.
Ten Australians and three Britons have come to Nepal to work on Ang Tshering’s next initiative, building incinerators to dispose of the garbage polluting land and waterways. Then he’s taking us on a nine-day trek. Continue reading
The yeti scalp in its place of honour.
I’ve been sorting out photos of my recent expedition to Nepal, for publication with an article I wrote for the Sun-Herald newspaper – coming soon, don’t miss it.
I found some curious photos I’d almost forgotten in the excitement.
…about as exciting as watching yak dung drying.
The air is thin in Khumjung village, altitude 3790 metres, just off the main ‘Everest Highway’ which leads trekkers like us towards the top of the world. There’s little between the Khumjung houses but stone walls and little fields, with juniper berries and yak dung drying on sheets of plastic.
Khumjung Village, Nepal
But the Khumjung Gomba buddhist monastery has one irresistible tourist attraction – a yeti scalp, which they acquired in a curious way… Continue reading
The end of the year is nigh, so it’s time for looking back to see what little lurks in the deep recesses of my failing memory.
Three continents, fourteen countries, some excellent meals and some terrible coffee are in there somewhere. Most of the many queues, airports and train stations have fortunately been forgotten, though an October night sleeping on the carpet at Singapore’s Changi Airport was memorable for the wrong reasons.
Here, in no particular order, are ten experiences I intend to remember for a long time… Continue reading
Filed under Cycling, Hiking
I’ve taken hundred of shots of Nepalese children working, playing, framed by windows or being carried on someone’s back. The scruffier and snottier they are, the better. Poverty is so photogenic…unfortunately. I suppose we like to see people cheerfully or stoically getting on with life, whatever their circumstances. Continue reading
Nepal is the ‘number one MTB destination of the world’ according to a website I came across. There are companies that offer cycle touring in the Kathmandu valley, but I can’t claim to have tested them.
Our trek is in the Everest region, where they haven’t yet invented the wheel. No wonder, with tracks like this: Continue reading
Navigation in the Himalayas is not difficult, at least, not when following the ‘Everest Highway’ in peak trekking season. Just follow the yaks, the guides, the porters and the Germans and you’ll be fine. It’s not a road you’d want to divert from anyway. A step or two off the beaten track could leave you several hundred metres lower in a matter of seconds. Continue reading