Claire Burgess’s Blog

Chitwan National Park

Posted in Claire Burgess, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on August 29, 2010

Day 15- Monday 25th May

We got up early this morning. Before the streets were busy to get the  bus to Chitwan National Park.  The streets in Kathmandu were much easier to walk down. We got to the bus stop and got on the little green bus. This is where we spent the next 6hrs listening to very cheesy pop music as we drove down winding roads along the edge of cliffs. We kept overtaking other busses on blind bends where we were all holding our breath and trying not to look. The roads were bumpy and at times you felt like you were on a big roller coaster. As we travelled along the road the senery outside the window changed from the big city to the green fields.

We arrived at a small village just outside of the park called Surgha. We were collected via an open top jeep and taken to our guest house swerving goats, cows, ducks and chickens that were wondering in the road. We wondered around the village being greeted by lots of smiling faces before watching the sun set at the side of the river on the edge of the national park. It was the perfect way to end the day.

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Pashupatinath

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on August 29, 2010

Day 14- Sunday 23rd May 2010

We have moved back to Pilgrims Guest House where we stayed on our 1st night in Kathmandu. We are having a little bit of trouble adjusting back into the pace of Kathmandu after the peace and quiet on the mountains. It’s hard going having all the cars beeping and people trying to sell you things all the time.

Some of us that were still in Kathmandu following the trek went to Pashupatinath today, a complex of temples and cremation area used by Hindus. Getting there from Thamel was an adventure. 6 of us piled into a taxi- Adam even had to get into the boot. We were swerving vehicles  and missing them only by millimeters then crossing oncoming traffic. Then at a busy junction at the top of a hill we stalled. I thought we might have to get out and push until the driver opened the engine from inside the van with his screwdriver and got things going again as if it happened all the time.

We all found Pashupatinath very different from how we had imagined. It is meant to be the best place in Nepal for Hindu’s to be cremated as the water that surrounds the temples is considered holly. What we weren’t expecting was for ceremonies to be so public. From the river bank we could see a dead body being carried on a stretcher covered only by a serrong. The body was then placed onto one of the plinths on some blocks of wood before the moth of the dead person was set alight by one of the male relatives. The body was then covered in straw that had been soaked in the holly water. When nothing but ash was left it was shoveled into the river. It was kind of shocking. Crowds of people were stood watching while some tourists were filming. Nobody knew what to make of it.

At night those of us still in Kathmandu had one final meal before all going our separate ways. We were just tooking in when the rain began to poor down. The Nepalese consider this lucky as this means the Monsoon is going to start soon. We practically needed armbands to swim back to our rooms. We said our final goodbyes  and that was it…. just the 3 of us again.

Tomorrow we are going to Chitwan National Park in the south of Nepal. Hopefully we will see some Rhino’s or maybe even a Tiger.

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal by Claire Burgess on August 29, 2010

Day 13 – Saturday 22nd May 2010

Everyone was up early to catch the plane back to Kathmandu. We all watched the tiny planes taking off and landing nervously on Lukla’s tiny runway. The planes come in so close to the mountains and we all held our breath as we watched to see if the pilots could move around the airport hotel at the side of the runway just in time.

Lukla airport is absolutely tiny, just two check-in desks and it took only 5 minutes to get through security and on to the plane.  Everyone boarded the plane sitting in single file, looking out of the window and looking forward into the cockpit as our air hostess did the rounds with sweets and cotton wool.

The engine started and we watched as the plane cleared the runway and the mountains (not by much!) As the plane went up we could see right across the mountains as they peeped above the clouds. It was Josh’s Birthday and we all sang Happy Birthday before sitting back into the flight.

Within 45 minutes we were landing back in Kathmandu back where we had started. As the bus took us back to the hotel we couldn’t wait to have a shower and put on some clean clothes. I also couldn’t wait to have some fruit. We all spent the rest of the day getting cleaned up to feel human again.  I think I must have been in the shower for over an hour.

At night we went to Rum-doodle for a final meal together. This place is a favourite with trekkers and they even give free drinks to anyone who has summited Everest. They gave us a foot shaped card and we all left a message and stuck it on to the wall.  In the morning some of the group were leaving for home so this was the official end of the trip. I was really kind of sad to think that having spent so long together and having this amazing adventure we might not see each other again.

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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