Sunday, 30 October 2011

Reaching The Stars And Down Again!

Our Journey had been a long one, walking some tough terrain and in some climactic weather too, boiling hot to freezing cold that no matter how many blankets went on my bed I couldn't cope! Wimp!
But it was all worth it.
Once at the top I felt I could touch the sky and the starts beyond, it was that exhilarating feel that left you inspired and jealous of life`s luxuries.
I`m one that spends too much money on meaningless things, when here, it may cost a bit for the journey, but the rest of it is free, I think when I get back to the U.K I shall not fritter money away so quickly, not when what we do is mainly free and enjoyable.
I`ll let the photos do the talking.........


With beautiful views and mesmerising peaks, its a journey to savour and one I shall savour and the memories will live long within me.
Nepal is a country to be proud of with the Famous Gurkha's coming from here and Joanna Lumley fighting for their cause, they`ll always be welcome at my house, because they made us so welcome and so proud.........

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Yaks Alot And Donkey Trains!

They are the workhorses of Nepal.

 Even 15 years later, they still roam the hills and mountains of Nepal and carry supplies where no vehicle can go (except helicopters) and they cross the rough and rugged terrain, passing the many prayer flags that join our journey.
We love the Yaks, they seem friendly cows and indeed they are sacred animals here.
Even when one went into a house and wreaked havoc, it was just shooed out much to the other locals and our amusement! so yeah says the lady..... Yaks alot!
I remember when we last came, a bus hit a calf and hundreds of people from villages far and wide came and beat the bus driver to death, thankfully nothing like that has been seen on this journey, but it is a poignant reminder to respect these animals as the villagers will fight to the death for their animals.
But they work the land and help provide food.
The Donkey`s too are well respected, they carry bundles for miles, but they don`t appear distressed or unhappy and they are well cared for, afterall if they are not, they cannot deliver the goods, so healthcare is more paramount than humans.
They are called Donkey Trains because they walk in single file, 20 of them one way and 20 of them another carrying anything.
They are majestic creatures, which unlike majority of livestock in UK, they are working animals and food and are also treasured and not taken for granted, something us Brits could learn.....

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Friendly Sherpa`s and Nepal Hospitality

Although Nepal has changed quite a bit, one thing that hasn`t is the friendliness and hospitality of the Nepali people.
They always seem to have a smile on their faces which is very infectious!
Our guides around the Annapurnna circuit and Thorong La Pass were efficient and helpful.
Our digital equipment failed quickly the higher we got and acclimatising here is essential, it means the case of mountain sickness or enjoying yourself.
There was no rush anywhere and everywhere we went, the hospitality and smiles were the same.
We came to one village and the accommodation had been taken, but one family took us in saying it would be an honour for her, but it was us who was honoured.

A traditional dance that provided good evening entertainment.
Our Brilliant smiling guides, who seemed to walk everywhere in flipflops.
One of the many bridges crossing the Marsygandi River and washing outdoors.

One of the many villages we came across, where food was fresh and available.
Whilst following the route from Besi-Saha to Pisang the river stayed with us, crossing it at several points and I witnessed something quite unique.....
A small boy was playing with a big wooden cartwheel and a stick next to his house by the river, smoke eminating from its chimney, it just reminded me of how simplistic life was here, I no 99% of kids at home would be stuck infront of the tv with their games consoles or mobile phones close to their ears.
Here electricity is not in abundance, we take that for granted in the UK and mobile phone reception is 0, but some idiot will always bring a phone and ruins a good atmosphere!
But they are not devoid of technology, it just takes time and water is provided by the river, with pipes sticking out now and again, its blue colour evident.
I remember the night times and occasionally when outside, fire flies could be seen lighting the night sky, but more often than not lightning storms and heavy rain would dance across the clouds, but by morning it would give way to brilliant sunshine and sometimes unbearable heat.
The monsoon season was over and soon snow would be making the walking areas a dangerous place, but for now we were fortunate with the weather and our guides and speaking Nepali seemed almost like home for me and the Sherpa`s enjoyed the interaction, although I am still learning more words although the written text will take alot longer to learn, but for now, the walking is enjoyable and with so much to write, I`m not sure what to put down, considering I was supposed to stay at home and save some money this month! I miss my Willow though, but I bet she`s having a lovely time with my neighbour!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Namaste, Kathmandhu And Swayambhunath (The Monkey Temple)

The Journey to Nepal is quite an eventful one, with a change at Delhi and then onto Kathmandhu and after almost 24hrs in the sky it is a relief to touch solid ground and what a welcome!

We were greeted with enthusiasm and smiles and taken to our hotel.
The heat and warmth was a welcome touch and the many faces of people seemingly with endless smiles!
My last journey to Nepal was also met with the warmth and unbelievable hospitality, where nothing seemed to be too much trouble, this time was no different.
Everything had changed, many high rise complexe`s had emerged and with the population over 1,000,000, it is crowded and dusty and the cars and rickshaws from days gone by.
Kathmandhu is the major gateway to tourism and is one of the oldest cities in Nepal along with two other sister cities.
The hotel was comfortable and a well earned rest for the night.
The city reminded me of London, beeps from vehicles could be heard and it was still very busy at night, but I was to busy inspecting my eyelids!

Day 2 Swayambhunath

The next day we made our way to Swayambhunath, which is also known as the Monkey Temple and it is believed to be an ancient religious complex.
To get there though, you can go up in cars or, like us, take the challenge of climbing the 365 steps to the top, Ben Nevis was a breeze compared to this!
But once at the top, well judge for yourself!


 With magnificient views and plenty of hard breathing after reaching the top, even up here things had changed.
The Stupa was regilded last year and the brightness shone through and monkeys were visiblie, dotted around the place.
They are believed to be holy creatures.
The eyes can be clearly seen around the sides of the Stupa.
Prayers are said by pilgrims everyday and they travel up the 365 steps before dawn.
Hundreds of Buddhist (Vajrayana) and  Hindu Pilgrims ascend up the hill passing the gilded Vajra (tibetan:Dorje) and two lions guarding the entrance and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the Stupa

Views of Katmandhu.
The Tibetan name for the site means Sublime Trees as there are numerous varieties of trees surrounding the area.
There are shops, restaurants and a library here now and hostels nearby.
The Stupa is a mound like structure containing Buddhist Relics and is probably the oldest place of Worship.
The dome represents the base of the world.
On all sides are a pair of eyes (representing Wisdom and Compassion) and a third eye can be seen above the pair of eyes.
The 13 pinnacles symbolise that sensient beings have to go through the 13 stages of enlightenment to reach Buddahood.

We enjoyed our journey up here and remembering how it looked 15years ago, and seeing the different changes, it still takes your breath away and as I speak quite good Nepalese, the Locals are amazed and invite us to join them with an apple drink, similar to cider, but its taste is unique and required!
Come and enjoy Nepal.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

York`s National Railway Journey

No visit to York would be complete without a visit to its National Railway Museum (NRM).
York itself is known as the walled city, but I am only here a few hours and the museum would take all that time, so next time I`ll stay a few days and explore York more.
The train station tells its own story of fine Victorian structure with big clocks and many a ghostly passing feet upon its platforms.

The museum itself is a short walk from the station and is free to enter, but we paid a donation as it helps to the work and restoration of such splendid steam engines, a past that is proud, though fraught with danger.....
George Stevenson was credited with the first steam train, the well known Rocket back in the 19th century.
As the years, decades and centuries moved on, the train has taken many transformations, first to reaching over 100mph to luxury and comfort of the Orient Express, to the first Bullet Train and whether it will be a viable commodity over here.
But the museum houses so many trains and it to has had a transformation,  I first came here when I was 8 year old, I don`t remember it apart from a big steam engine on a turntable! Its still there, but the museum has always been a workshop and used to employ over 700 workers, but now with less people, mostly volunteers, it is a place where work is still done and pride in steam still pulls in many visitors from home and abroad.
If truth be known, I love steam trains, they have character and a sense of worth, I`m the steam trainspotter!
But go along, have a good look at how steam has earned its rightful place in history.

 Pop into the restaurant inbetween the tracks and next to some stunning carriages..

 The many plaques from the front of decommissioned trains and a 1920`s carriage awaiting restoration

A refurbished cast iron bridge, with only a few left in the country still working, many have since been melted down and sold as scrap.
The famous names of the best known trains, The Flying Scotsman.....
I enjoyed my short visit and could`ve stayed their alot longer, but what d`you think?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Marathon Day

I`m hoping this would be the only time I retire from the Loch Ness Marathon due to spondalitheisis of my spine, which has now trapped nerves which means I can no longer raise my left leg running or rest it without aching like mad!
So, until I get the op to move the nerves, or discs, I`m currently a bystander, but it did make a refreshing change!
The day started foggy and pouring rain, but this didn`t dampen the hardy spirits of many runners or people enjoying the friendly atmosphere and with many stalls to entertain us and live music from well known Scottish Bands, it was a day that was enthralling and busy with anticipation and hopes of PB`s being broken or just finishing for their charities, raising millions in the process.



 With people keeping dry and runners enjoying the complimentary soup and roll and stalls enjoying the trade, it was a busy time and only a sea of people could be seen for distance!

As many were crossing the finishing time, the Wee Nessie, 5K and 10K and Marathon were a huge success once more and many records were broken.
Even the muddy fields were a challenge to get through, though no one minded.......

 Even the new games that all could enjoy were a huge success and no ones spirits were dampened and then the sun shone through............

 Then as day gave way to night and the many food establishments became full with many a sore leg making their way to beer and food halls and clear night with new half moon shone through and the atmosphere changed once more to merriment and cheer of achievements
gained, but you knew who ran, they were the ones a hobbling and only drinking halfs, but many a tale they have to tell for many an hour! 
Me? I shall look forward to next year and the new challenge I face, but right now, I`m enjoying cool glass of corona looking out at the night sky that is Inverness, The City in the Highlands, the place I want to be....