There are many inspirations to be found in this great trekking tale by Deborah Kahn, but two things stand out: 1. if you are thinking of Nepal, travel responsibly, and 2. enter our weekly competitions, because people really do WIN…
“Speechless does not come easy to me. However, that’s exactly what I was when I opened the email telling me that I had won the ‘Win-a-trip’ Annapurna Sanctuary competition. So much to organise, my life turned into a whirlpool, but once in Nepal it was all worth it.
Awesome does not come close to describing the sights, smells and sounds that greeted me each day. Kathmandu has to be seen to be believed, so many people, so many cars and so little space. But everything moving without major problems. Sadhus, beggars and cows mingling with tourists. Hindi music, Nepali music, western pop tunes, all invading the air waves.
Our group was from all over the world and ranged in age from Pablo at 21 being the youngest, to me at 51 being the eldest. As our time for sightseeing drew to an end and our trek loomed, each of us got anxious. Our target was Annapurna Base Camp, or ABC to those in the know, at 4130 metres (13,550 feet). Would I cope with the altitude, should I get a porter, would I manage the bridges, could I eat dahl baht for most meals? These were the questions that played on my mind. And ones that all were answered in due course with “yes”.
Each day the scenery unfolded like a postcard. Terraced hillsides, thatched roofed villages, smiling children playing, families singing whilst harvesting their crops, gushing glacial-fed rivers, winding mountain paths and finally the snow covered peaks of Annapurna Sanctuary. It was all amazing and a visual smorgasbord.
What was just as amazing was the helpfulness and cheeriness that our guides and porters greeted us with every day without fail. Nothing was too much trouble, our happiness was their happiness. Shankar, Bishnu, Ravin and Tirthar taught me so much about Nepal and Nepali life that I felt a sense of belonging.After all, I was old enough to be their mother! We learnt and sang Nepali folk songs on the track, learnt simple phrases that opened people up to us and drank masala tea with anyone who would share a pot.
Thank you Intrepid for giving me an opportunity to be part of this amazing culture. And thank you for encouraging responsible travel. Our porters benefited from this policy. Intrepid is setting a high standard by limiting the amount that porters can carry. We saw some terrible examples of simple abuse of the strength of the Nepali porters. Loads that would better suit horses than people. Hopefully others will soon come on board and appreciate and value the porters rather than treat them as second class citizens.”
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* photo by Terence Ting – Intrepid Photography Competition