The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on
A visit to Nepal at the height of the political troubles of April
When Liz and I first met, we soon discovered that we had many
common interests. At the time we were both keen SCUBA divers, but
it wasnt long before we found that we were both keen on camping
and hiking also. This soon led us to think about going off on a
hiking holiday together. Wed both dreamed of visiting Nepal,
so naturally it wasnt long before we had a full blown expedition
to Everest base camp planned.
That trip was magnificent. It wasnt just the hiking that
we enjoyed; it was the whole experience, the wonderful people, their
way of life, and the amazing terrain in which they live. That started
a long love affair with Nepal. We visited every year for eleven
years. Each year we would spend around five weeks trekking, in ever
more out of the way places. As soon as we got back, we were busy
planning our next trek.
In 1998 we trekked around Mt. Manaslu, and then on to Pokhara.
Sometimes we just trekked as a couple, but on other occasions we
had friends join us. On that particular trek, our friends Nick and
Ross joined us on an amazing journey around the spectacular Manaslu
On our return, I became ill with diarrhoea. This wasnt unusual.
It was quite common for us to pick up some sort of tummy bug at
the end of a trek, when we were relaxed and took less care over
food hygiene. However, this episode was a little different, and
my illness dragged on for some time. After much medical investigation,
I was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma. This is a cancer that affects
the immune system, which explained my failure to recover from a
That was the start of another long and tough trek. This particular
journey involved twenty months of hospital treatment, and Id
like to think that our love of trekking helped in this. Whenever
I was discharged from hospital, we would go off on long walks as
a means of regaining my fitness. This, Im sure, helped me
prepare for the next bout of chemotherapy. Eventually I underwent
a stem cell transplant, which we hope will turn out to be a long
term cure for my lymphoma.
As autumn came and went each year, it seemed strange not to be
setting off for our annual trekking holiday in Nepal. At first it
felt like breaking a long held tradition, but as time wore on, we
gradually got used to not going. This continued, because even though
my treatment appeared to be successful, the doctors felt that further
trips could not be recommended, because my immunity may remain impaired.
In April 2006, nearly six years after my transplant, and eight
years since our last trek, we found that we had an opportunity to
take a short break before the long hot summer of Abu Dhabi set in.
We saw an advert with a special offer of a short holiday in Kathmandu,
at a very reasonable cost. We thought, Why Not? It wouldnt
be like going on a trek, and I was sure my immunity was up to a
short visit. One thing led to another, and our short visit turned
into a short trek for old times sake. This then turned into
a more ambitious plan to do a seven day trek which later got extended
to two weeks visit with ten days of trekking!
This all fell into place very quickly. We'd obviously rekindled
a flame which had remained smouldering inside us, and once the idea
had formed, there was no going back. Our plans were going well,
and everything seemed so easy to organise. Easy that is, until we
learned of the rapid deterioration of the political situation in
Nepal! We knew of the ongoing troubles, and we never considered
that to be enough to put us off visiting. However, the latest developments
were much more serious.
From the point of view of our personal safety, we now had to think
carefully about cancelling or delaying our holiday. All governments
were advising against anything but essential travel to Nepal. This
in itself wasnt too much of a concern to us. It seems that
these days they issue such advice at the drop of a hat in order
to protect themselves from criticism, rather than out of a desire
to give meaningful advice to travellers.
We listened to every news bulletin, and dredged the internet looking
for up to date information, to help us make a decision. We were
in touch with our friend Nurbu, who organises all of our treks.
He reassured us that things werent as bad as they appeared
on the news reports. I found a web forum where residents, and tourists
in Kathmandu, were saying that as long as you used common sense,
then it was still safe to visit. To be honest, I think we would
have gone ahead regardless, but it was nice to have at least a little
bit of positive news.
Right up until we left for the airport, the news reports showed
the situation in Kathmandu worsening, and it had become the top
story of every bulletin. It may seem that we were mad to contemplate
a trip at this time, but hopefully our history will go some way
to explaining why we didnt back out.
With that long-winded justification out of the way, what follows
is the story of our adventure. I hope you enjoy sharing it with
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© Roy L Richards 2012
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