Claire Burgess’s Blog

I’m off to climb Mount Everest

Posted in Claire Burgess, Dubai, Everest, Fun, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on May 3, 2010

This Thursday I’m off to Nepal to climb to Everest Base Camp so I though I would do some posts about everything I have been doing in preparation. This might help you out if you are planning a trip there as I was totally confused by all the information online. It also means you can come along with me for the ride and enjoy it all from the comfort of your own computer.

I decided to go to climb Everest with some close friends I used to live in Thailand with, Jemma and Jenny. When we were in Thailand in 2004 Jemma met a group of travelers who had been traveling for years to locations all over the globe. She asked them “Where is the best place you’ve been to?” They all agreed it was Everest Base Camp. And then in September Jemma got us together and asked if we wanted to go and see what all the fuss was about. Because I don’t like to back down from a challenge (and because I had drunk far too much Rose) I agreed! God knows why? I have absolutely no climbing experience and apart from the marathon I ran 2 years ago and the half marathon I did last year, I have never really been too into keeping fit.

Anyway, peer pressure aside, we signed up to STA’s Everest Adventure which you can find here

This is a 15 day trip which should mean that we aren’t going up too quickly. The trip accommodates around 12 people and because we booked early only cost us just over £500 not including flights. After a lot of research I found that one of the cheapest ways to fly to Katmandu was to go via Dubai. Luckey, I have friends there but even so you can get direct flights from London to Dubai for very reasonable prices if you book in advance or check Travel Supermarket then change onto a Dubai Budget Airline Fly Dubai for the Dubai-Kathmandu leg. This meant our flights came in at £450 return and we even get to stop in Dubai for a night out en-route. We are going to spend a few days in Kathmandu before we start to get over any jet lag and get ourselves acclimatised and a few days after to let our hair down and recover.

There are lots of different treks around but lots of people seem to recommend STA. I will let you know how I found it when I get back. Here’s the itinerary for the trek that we have been given by them:

Day 1 Arrive Kathmandu

Arrive in Kathmandu at any time.

Day 2-4 Pakding/ Namche Bazaar

Heading through pine and cedar woods along the Dudh Kosi to Pakding, encounter your first yak caravans carrying trekking equipment and supplies – including yours – towards base camp. Spend a day acclimatizing in Thame. Intricately carved mani stones mark the path to this large valley.

Day 5 Tengboche

Leaving Namche, the route is unbelievably beautiful. Hike through Sherpa villages and forests of fir and rhododendron to reach Tengboche Monastary, home to Tengboche Rinpoche, a Lama incarnate.

Day 6-7 Dingboche

Walk through alpine meadows of scrub juniper and wild flowers. From Dingboche, the mountain views are outstanding. Hike up the Imja Khola. The fluted ice walls flanking the Amphu Lapcha pass are one of the highlights of the trek.

Day 8-10 Lobuche/ Everest Base Camp

Climbing above the tree line, cross alpine pastures and glacial moraine to reach Everest Base Camp where colourful expedition tents give a bizarre appearance to this desolate place surrounded by walls of rock, snow and ice.

Day 11-13 Tengpoche/ Mongo/ Lukla

Descend the Imja Khola past Pangboche, the highest permanent settlement. Its gompa, the oldest in Khumbu, is built over the hermitage of Khumbu’s saint Lama Sanga Dorje.

Day 14 Kathmandu

You made it! Take a well-deserved rest and enjoy one last day with your fellow trekkers in this bustling city.

Day 15 Depart Kathmandu

The CREDIT CRUNCH Has Even Hit Dubai!

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Dubai, Media, Radio by Claire Burgess on February 12, 2009

I’m back in the very lovely and snowy UK now and back in my office at The Custard Factory in Digbeth. It seems like ages since I was at work here. In fact it has been. I haven’t been in since before Christmas.

Anyway, since I’ve been back loads of people have been asking about what Dubai was like. One of the things they were most surprised about was that The ‘Credit Crunch’ has even had an effect there. I think lots of people thought it would some how be immune.

The best example I can give is the story of Andrew Blair. We interviewed him on Dubai Today after the story broke that he had been made redundant from his £75,000 construction Project Manager job in Dubai and then written on the back of his white Porsche in black marker pen to advertise himself. This made international news including this story in The Telegraph, after a Dubai blogger took a photo of his car. This idea seemed to excite people and one of our Dubai Today Presenters Alexander McNabb, even thought it may start the new phenomenon of ‘Porsche Scrawling.’

Life in Dubai

Andy's Car Photo: Life in Dubai

Since we did the interview this story has taken a dramatic turn after newspapers revealed Andrew was wanted by Dubai police for 35 speeding offences and unpaid fines of more than £700. And as it turns out…he’s still looking for a job.

What Life Sounds Like

Posted in Claire Burgess, Documentary, Dubai, Dubai Eye, IBDA'A, Media, Radio by Claire Burgess on February 1, 2009

Tomorrow is my last day in Dubai and my last day working on Dubai Eye’s Dubai Today programme. I have loved it and am so glad Dubai Eye have given me a proper role during my time and kept me working hard as the Assistant Producer on the show. I came to be here because I won an IBDA’A Award for a documentary I made with a Big Issue vendor in Birmingham. My prize was to come here to work for a month.


As I won the prize for my documentary, Jessica Swann the Presenter of Dubai Today and Deputy Head of Programming for Dubai Eye asked me if I would like to make a documentary to play on the show. I agreed and decided to make a documentary for the show based on an idea I had when we had blind marathon runner Katy Newitt on the show a few weeks ago.

It was based on the idea that Dubai is famous for lots of famous buildings, places and things to see. However, what is life like for you in Dubai if you can’t see any of this?

I have never made a documentary in such a short time before as usually I work with the subject over the course of a month or so but was only here for a month so was restricted by time. You can listen to my documentary in full here:

What Life Sounds Like

It will also be broadcast on Dubai Eye 103.8 tomorrow between 9am-12. The documentary is called ‘What Life Sounds Like’ and is the story of Faress Al Hady a visually impaired man who lives and works in Dubai and Sharjah.

Left for Dead!

Posted in Claire Burgess, Dubai, Dubai Eye, Dubai Today, Media, Radio by Claire Burgess on January 25, 2009

So I’m in to my last week here at Dubai Eye now. One of the big highlights from work last week was Ricky Megee. He was drugged in Australia’s Northern Territories and left for dead. He managed to survive there for 70 days on a diet of frogs, snakes and leeches before being rescued. He has written a book about what happened called ‘Left for Dead in the Outback’. It includes some shocking pictures including one of him just after he had been found…having lost a lot of weight. A truly shocking and amazing story of survival.

Listen to the interview here:

Ricky Megee Interview

Ricky as he was when he was found

Ricky as he was when he was found

Me Meeting Ricky as he is Today

Me Meeting Ricky as he is Today

Haile Gebrselassie- The Fastest Marathon Runner On The Planet!

Posted in Claire Burgess, Dubai, Dubai Eye, Dubai Today, Media, Radio, Sport by Claire Burgess on January 15, 2009

Halie crossing the line in The Dubai Marathon 2008

So my time in Dubai is flying by. I am now producing a daily current affairs programme for Dubai Today and yesterday managed to get a big interview for the station. Not bad considering it is only my first full week in the job. We interviewed Haile Gebrselassie ahead of the Dubai Marathon this weekend.

Since working here I have had to speak to 100’s of PR people and marketing folk in order to get interviews with even the smallest organisation and so I was really surprized when I managed to get a phone number for Haile and he answered the call himself! He was one of the nicest guests I have ever had on a show and was as lovely off air as he sounds on it.

Listen to the interview here:

Haile Gebrselassie Interview

Haile won the Dubai Marathon last year and holds the world record for the marathon after running it in 2hrs3minutes and 59 seconds in Berlin in 2008. Tomorrow he will be hoping to break the record if only for the extra $1million prize money. Not bad concidering his Dad once thought his running was a waste of time. GOOD LUCK HAILE! YOU CAN DO IT!

UPDATE : Haile did win the Dubai Marathon 2009 with a time of 2h:05m:29s. Due to wet conditions he didn’t manage to break his record but still managed the 8th fasted time in the world.

A New Year…A New Country

Posted in Claire Burgess, Dubai, Dubai Eye, Dubai Today, IBDA'A, Media, Music, Radio by Claire Burgess on January 12, 2009

It has been a while since I have blogged because things have been a little busy, what with moving countries for a month I just haven’t had time. So I will try and fill you in and let you know about somethingI have been meaning to post but haven’t got round to it.

A while back someone I follow on Twitter posted up this link:


It reminded me of the article I had read on the way to work in The Metro about what Coldplay’s Chris Martin said about whether in ‘Viva La Vida’ they had copied any any on Joe Satriani’s ‘If I Could Fly.’ He said that “any similarities are coincidental.” Unfortunately for Coldplay it doesn’t matter whether similarities are “coincidental” or not. If ‘Viva La Vida’ contains 8 notes that are the same as ‘If I Could Fly’ then they have plagiarised. Both sides will now appoint musicologists to fight there cases in court as Joe Satriani sues Coldplay for “any and all profits” related to this copyright infringement. I think if I shut my eyes it sounds like the same song but what do you think?

Joe Santriani

So since the New Year has arrived so have I- In Dubai! Last year I won an IBDA’A Award for a Radio Documentary I made. This was presented to me by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates. My prize was to do an internship with Arabian Radio Network- Dubai’s biggest radio network. So here I am. I’m working for Dubai’s only English talk station Dubai Eye as a Producer on their day time current affairs programme- Dubai Today.

It’s very different to the kind of station I am used to. Before, I have only worked for music stations. But working in any kind of station in Dubai has restrictions. You aren’t allowed to discuss Alcohol, Sex, Religion, Drugs, Gambling or anything that paints the government in a bad light. Music station’s here also don’t pay for the music they play. It’s all quite strange at the moment but I’m settling in quite well and making friends as I go.

Dubai Eye

I have been spending lots of my spair time on the Beach- 25 degrees in January, I can’t complain! And last night, I went to the ‘Cinema Under the Stars’ at the WAFI centre to watch ET. It felt like being at a drive-in except instead of being in cars we were sat on giant M&M’s bean bags.

So for the rest of the month I will keep you updated with what I get up to.