Claire Burgess’s Blog

The Couchsurfers

Posted in Claire Burgess, Fun, Travel by Claire Burgess on September 11, 2011

Since moving to Peterborough I have met some amazing people though a website called Couchsurfing. It’s like Facebook but for people who travel. If you move to a new place or are going somewhere new on holiday I totally recommend it.

I stayed with my first Couchsurfer for New Year in 2009 in New York, CJ. Having sent out lots of messages we finally got a reply. My sister and I turned up at his apartment just off 5th Avenue for a week staying on his couch. initially, a totally terrifying experience not helped by the fact that most of my friends thought he was probably going to turn out to be an axe murder or smoother me with a pillow in my sleep. As it turns out he was totally amazing. He didn’t seem to mind having English Twins sleeping on his sofa for 10 days…funny that?! and showed us all around his city. Including how to work out the ridiculously complicated subway, a Japanese karaoke bar and some of the best pizza the city has to offer. It was so much more than a free place to stay. CJ even had a long-term Couchsurfer who would stay regularly when she was passing through…she even had her own closet!

CJ shared his tips for how to pick out if a Couchsurfer was ok to stay on your couch.
1. They must wear a shirt in their profile photo
2. They must be small enough so they can’t take your tv

In fact, Couchsurfing is quite safe because you leave references for people you meet and stay with.

Peterborough has a really active Couchsurfing community, maybe because lots of people who live here are from elsewhere? I joined their group on the site and said hello when I first arrived here and had loads of friends ever since. I don’t know if it’s because we are all people who realise that Couchsurfers aren’t axe murders that brings us together or that it’s just we are all interested in meeting new people from all over. Whatever it is, they all seem like very cool people to me.

A Couchsurfer's trip to Skegness

Punting with some Couchsurfers in Cambridge

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The Last Road to Base Camp

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on July 27, 2010

Day 8- Monday 17th May

So in the end we were up at 4.30am after vertually no sleep because it was freezing cold even with all my clothes on. For breakfast I had ordered Peanut Butter on toast. I have a massive weakness for the stuff and was so surprized to see it there I had even been dreaming about eating it. Sadly, when we got up for breakfast they had ran out! Ah well, we are on the side of a mountain so these things do happen. It’s only when someone climbs with all the supplies can they get new stock.

After breakfast at 5.30am we headed from Lambuche to Gorekeshp. This was a 3hrs walk across the glacier as the sun was coming up. It was so tiring and seemed like we were walking for an age. The sun coming up was a lovely site though and it was just hard to take in the site of the glacier around us. Although, as we walked everyone became a little distracted as our minds turned to base camp.

We stopped at Gorkeshep for an early lunch and in time to meet a group of Columbians who were celebrating. They had just had two of their team reach the Summit. It had taken 6 months of planning and trekking. It was so amazing to finally meet people who were part of a team who had made it. It was absolutely, amazing then she told us that one of the climberes had a prostetic leg. It was so emotional that we were all holding back tears. I think everyone around the table then wondered if what we were doing could even compare?

After a massive plate of roast potatoes and a trip to what can only be described as the worst most stoumarch renchingly awful toilet I have been to in my life, We set of for our final 3hr trek to Base Camp. I can’t actually believe I’m writing this. We have made it so far. All of us, only 3 hrs from Everest Base Camp.

They felt like the longest 3hrs ever. I was struggling and got a bit of a head ache. I was really thinking I wouldn’t make it. I dragged myself there with the aid of Wine Gums and just using my poles, putting one front in front of the other. 1hour and 1/2 into the walk Will’s sole came away from his walking boots. No one was surprized being as he got them for £30 in Kathmandu. Hr still had 1 1/2hrs to go until base camp. Wondering what he was going to do with his food flapping around when Jenny produced a packet of hair bands and he fastened the sole together. Genius!

I totally didn’t know what to expect but at the same time I did have a picture in my mind of what I thought it would be. It wasn’t like that at all. We made it to 5364 meters and were now at 51% oxygen.  We were at Base Camp!

There was a Base Camp sign and we all stood by to have our photo. a memento to show how far we had come. The sign was all wrapped in peace flags and memorials of others that had made it, and those who hadn’t. We could see the tents of those waiting to climb to Camp 1.

A few of us had a shot of Fred’s Everest Whiskey to celebrate that we had made it. It’s hard to discribe how happy we were to make it after so long. Rob celebrated by giving us a performance of Cheryl Cole’s Fight For This Love. It was so random it was helriaous.

I even managed to get a photo of Harry Hill’s Knitted Character at the top. I can’t wait to send it in to TV Burp.  I feel really proud that we made it. After all the madness, worrying and of course walking Rob said to Jemma and I today that “when some people drink too much they come home with a road sign or a traffic cone, you ended up here.”

Maybe we shouldn’t have but we a couple of small rocks as a momento and got ready to leave. It was so hard to go knowing that what we had come all this way to see this and now we were going.  We turned around and headed back to Gorkershep which is at 5180 meters and 52% oxygen. On the way back I had a great chat with Nick about travels and The Beatles which made the journey back fly by. Maybe, that was because I was still feeling high from what we had done.

Back at the Tea House we are all shattered. The boys are playing cards with Dawa and we are sitting huddled around the stove chatting. Early night for us though as tomorrow we are up at 4am to watch the sunrise over Everest on the summit of Kalapater which is 5500 meters. Night Night.

Dhingboche

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 27, 2010

Saturday 15th May-Day 6

Today was our second rest day. We are in Dhingboche to adjust to the altitude. After breakfast we did a 2hr trek up to 4600 meters. It was so hard because your heart felt like it is pumping so hard and you couldn’t catch your breath. At the top though when we all sat on some rocks looking at the amazing views all was well. We sat there just taking them in and adjusting to the height.

We heading back to the Tea House to relax for the rest of the day but it was time for Jenny and I to do some hand washing as we were running out of clean clothes. Although it is really difficult to keep clean on this trek we are trying to keep our limited clothes as fresh as we could. It was really different to be doing our washing outside on the side of a mountain. It was absolutely stunning. It seems like we weren’t the only ones who had this idea as everyone at the lodge seemed to have their clothes blowing around in the wind amongst the yaks.

As we finished our washing I had a funny turn. I had absolutely excruciating pins and needles in my hands and feet. This is a side effect of the diomox. I have had this on other parts of the trip but nothing like this. It made my feet feel like they were on fire and I was dancing around like a mad women trying to stamp out the pain. It did eventually go but I have decided to reduce my dose to half a tablet twice a day instead of the full one.

We had the rest of the day to kill but couldn’t actually do a lot because we had to conserve our energy. I did however, make time for my second hot shower. It was so lovely to be clean again. We then spent the rest of the day playing cards. I don’t think I’ve ever played as many games of cards in my life as I have on this trip.

There is also a lot of time to think mostly, on this trip about food. We seem to be hungry a lot of the time so always talk about the food we will have when we get home to celebrate making it to Base Camp. It’s not that the Nepalese food isn’t delicious, it is. But on the mountain it is a limited menu made up mostly of Dhal Baht which is a Nepalese curry with rice, vegetable Mo Mo which are like stuffed pasta, vegetable fried rice or fried potatoes. Every menu is roughly the same so it’s easy to get board. Tonight though it’s omelette and chips for me.  My stomach is growling at the thought.

To Namche Bazzar

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 7, 2010

Namche Bazzar

This is what happened when I went on a trek to Everest Base Camp.

11th May 2010 – Day 2

This morning we got up a little later at 6.30am and wasn’t in pain like I expected. Today we set off on a 6 hour trek to Namche Bazzar which is at 344meters above sea level and 9km away from Phakding.

In my head this didn’t sound far but as soon as we started walking it was clear today was going to be a tough day. We were going up hill lots and although I did start using walking poles today, I have never used walking poles before and started with them too long. This meant going uphill was so hard. Once someone pointed this out things were much easier. Still tough though and to be honest I couldn’t really keep up too well. I felt a lot of pressure to go quickly because we were walking as a group of 12 plus the guides and I felt like people stuck behind me wanted me to go quicker. This made it really hard to get into the rhythm of walking.  But our guide Dawa told me that I would find the hills much easier if I took things slowly. Things are much more difficult because of the reduced oxygen  levels and when we are going uphill it makes you feel really out of breath.

One of the other trekkers, Nick, who has a fair bit of trekking experience told me I would find things easier if I just stopped thinking. This was amazing advice. I just put my iPod on and kept on going slowly, only stopping to let Sherpa’s carrying massive loads of bags or wood or even Yaks carrying trekkers bags.  I really don’t know how the Sherpa’s do it. Some of them don’t even have proper walking shoes just trainers and are only paid around 1000RPS per day which is around £10. This is nothing in comparison to the work that they do carrying heaving loads strapped to their backs up the steep paths.

The paths have some amazing views. I really like when we go over the long bridges which cross the valley because there is an amazing breeze as you cross although it does get a little scary because they are so high.

Today was definitely a very difficult day. My heart was beating so fast at times that I struggled to catch my breath and by the time we reached Namche tonight I was about ready to fall down. I’m a little worried as this isn’t even the longest day of walking. Base Camp seems like such a long way away.  Namche Bazzar is full of trekkers. Lots of them are either on the way to Base Camp or on their way back.  This is the place en-route where you can hire things like sleeping bags and buy food supplies.

My Ipod is really keeping me going so I will put in the posts which song has really helped today.

On My iPod – Frank Turner – The Road


The First Day

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 6, 2010

Internet access was either limited or really expensive on the trek and to be honest I just wanted to concentrate on enjoying it so I kept a diary and will write up my all my entries.

10th May 2010- Day 1

We got up at 4am to get the bus to the airport. When the alarm went off it felt like I have only just shut my eyes. I had packed up all my kit in the holdall provided and taken it to the bus. All 12 of us sat there, me and my new virtual stranger friends with the exception of Jemma and Jenny. All I kept thinking is, I hope we all make it to Base Camp. It’s so far. Why am I doing this?

I was struggling massivley and running off adrenaline already because of staying up later than planned to pack my bags anxouis not to forget anything but not to take too much. I would have sorted things out earlier but was busy helping out another girl on the trip, Rosie who had arrived from India and forgotten the PIN number for her bank cards so had no money. In the end we talked a travel agent into selling her a cheap flight to Pokora and giving her the cash she needed if she paid on a credit card. It must have been quite scary to arrive in a country without any money.

When we arrived at the domestic airport the sun was already up and we carried our bags from the bus to the smallest check in area you have ever seen. After which we boarded the smallest plane I have ever been on to take us to Lukla. It was actually a very smooth flight and even had an air hostess who walked down the very small aisle to distribute sweets and cotton wool. It hardly seemed worth it for just the 12 of us plus our Head Trek Guide Dawa. It seemed really funny that even though I was at the back of the plane I could see all the way to the cockpit.

We landed on Lukla runway which is a site to be seen. It has only a 475meter runway that is sloping higher than the other and it is surrounded by mountains with a 700meter drop at the end. I was amazed we made it without any difficulty.

After we landed I had a breakfast of muesli and mint tea before we started walking. I soon realised why it was important to have good boots. The path was hard and rocky but we only trekked for 3hours to Phading which is at 2652 meters about sea level and has 73% oxygen.  We only walked 5k today so it felt really easy. I hope the rest of the trip is as easy as this but I think I can dream on!

The View

The view from the plane

I found a video online of a plane landing there a few years back. It hasn’t changed much so you can see what it is really like.

Join Me on Everest? I’m Freshly Pressed

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Fun, Nepal, Travel, Uncategorized by Claire Burgess on May 4, 2010

Last Night after my last post I was totally overwhelmed when I posted my “I’m off to climb Mount Everest” blog post and it was chosen to be on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed front page. It meant lots of you visited  and posted questions and thought on my trip.

I just wanted to post my responses here so that I don’t miss anything and say A VERY BIG THANK YOU to anyone who posted kind words of encouragement and advice. 

floatfly said, on May 3, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Are you not worried that the recent political situation might affect your trip? There is currently a nationwide general strike, with most businesses shut, and maoist protesters filling the capital. Political change is long overdue in Nepal- but I am wondering whether to continue as planned with my own trip, flying to Nepal in 2 weeks time, or to scrap that idea and go to India for 3 months instead… There is currently no public transport in Kathmandu at all, not even taxis… I will be interested to hear how things go for you

Hi Floatfly, I have been watching this situation very closely. One of my friend’s Jenny is in Nepal already on a retreat although not in Kathmandu so she has been keeping me up to date from inside Nepal. To be honest, there is little information getting through to her at the moment though. I have checked with The Foreign Office and they think it is safe to travel, as do STA. In terms of transport, your right, no public transport is running but according to The Foreign Office Website some hotels are running buses as are the Nepal Tourist Board. And to be fair, if I have to walk it will be good practice for the Trek. I think I will take Morealtitude’s advice bellow.

morealtitude said, on May 4, 2010 at 6:17 am

Have fun with your adventure Claire. Nepal is a stunning country and a ramble up to EBC should be a hoot. I hope it leaves you with lots of great memories. I’m more than a little jealous and looking forward to the next chance I get to return to Nepal and hit up the same trail.

In response to floatfly’s concern about the political question, it is of course always a concern at the back of the mind that your logistics might get a little snarled by protests, but to be honest the Maoists know as well as anyone that tourism of the sort you’re coming to do brings huge revenues for Nepal, and they’re generally pretty good about not disrupting it too much. When I trekked to Annapurna Base Camp in late 2007 there were lots of the same concerns around political unrest, but we went through the country just fine and had a great trip. The Nepalese are beautiful, beautiful people and the country is magnificent. Take your chances and have a great time.

johnhauge said, on May 3, 2010 at 7:26 pm

i wonder if you’re going to pick up after yourself or just leave your litter in place like everyone before you?      just a thought.

John, I will of course be picking up after myself. This year a great effort is being made on Everest to clear up some of the rubbish that has been left by travelers and I hope to help where I can. We will be taking Metal drinking bottles not plastic and I will be sure to leave nothing behind.

Mike said, on May 3, 2010 at 9:43 pm

this is going to be a great blog. be sure to keep everyone updated. I’m curious what type of training went into this. Not only endurance, but high altitude?

I always felt as though i could train for the endurance aspect of something like this if i really wanted to, although i consider myself a strength athlete; it’s the high altitude that always concerned me…

Hi Mike, I have been walking lots. My next post will be include some of my notes on the training I have been doing. I was really concerned about this to begin with but most people I have spoken to say that if your endurance is good you tend to survive the altitude sickness better. We are lucky that our trip has lots of rest time to adjust. Your more at risk if your body doesn’t have time to adjust.

Jim Hagen said, on May 3, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Do you really think that the carbon footprint of your trip is worth feeding your ego?

Jim, you make a valid point but all I can say is that as someone who doesn’t own a car, I feel that if I can share this trip with you, and people like you to save you going then surely it is!

pepperedskye said, on May 4, 2010 at 10:41 am

Good Luck, sounds like it will be amazing, will you be taking photos?

Dan Wade said, on May 4, 2010 at 11:59 am

Sounds like an amazing adventure! You have to post pictures and stories!

http://danjswade.wordpress.com

Dan and Pepper, I will be taking lots of photos. I’m no professional photographer but I will try to do the best I can to show you what it’s like. I will of course share my stories. I will try to blog where I can and where I can’t I will be writing in my notebook to write-up for you later.

Agung Putradi said, on May 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I like this, Maybe I can climb this mount too.

Agung, don’t just think about it… DO IT! Go on… I dare you! If I survive this then anyone can.

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

Back from Barcelona

Posted in Barcelona, CID MUSIC, Gigbeth, Music, Travel by Claire Burgess on November 19, 2008

Sorry I have been slow on the blogging front but I have been recovering from Gigbeth/Gigbeth Fringe madness and celebrating my birthday in Barcelona.

First things first, The Gigbeth Fringe went really well. We packed out the front of The Rainbow and much fun, dancing and whooping was had to the sounds of Mama Matrix, Smileymic, Laura Louise and Marc Reck. Smashing!

I spent the next day working at Gigbeth. Even the heavy rain couldn’t dampen my spirits as I sang along to Things Can Only Get Better with D:Ream, took photo’s of Smileymic meeting the Sugarhill Gang and Dance my socks off when they performed Rapper’s Delight.

Smileymic meets The Sugarhill Gang

Smileymic meets The Sugarhill Gang

Smileymic talks about what it was like to meet the US hip hop legends as well as what happened while we were in The Green Room here.

Then bags packed and off to Barcelona. After a blurry eyed start and a slightly confused trip on the metro system my twin sister and I arrived in one piece and set about enjoying the sites with lots of wine and sangria in between. Here are my top 5 things to do in Barca:

1) Go to see Barcelona play at Nou Camp

2) Have a meal at Les Cants Neits (The 15th Night) in the square off The Ramblas- The food is like a party in your mouth.

3) Go to Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi temple – The best view of Barcelona.

4) Have an ice cream at Port Veil- You can feed the fish too.

5) Go to the beach at Port Olympic, sit back and enjoy the sunshine.

A lovely relaxing Birthday. Now, back to work!