Tag Archives: Nepal

The Nepal Earthquake: Three Months On

I was sitting on a rooftop overlooking the lake in Udaipur when the word came in. “Tell your families you are safe and do it now. There has been a massive earthquake in Nepal and Kathmandu is severely damaged”. I started panicking. My close friend who I had trekked with a bit over two weeks before on Everest Basecamp was still in Kathmandu. She had messaged me the day before saying her bus nearly got ran off the road by a gravel truck and how much of a close call it was.  It wasn’t to be the last of the close calls. I was talking to her about fifteen minutes before the earthquake had struck. I didn’t know where she was, if she was alive, injured or whatever. All I knew was an approximate location.

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The Zen Bed and Breakfast where I stayed in Nepal and where my friend was staying during the earthquake. This alleyway caved in and there were cracks in the concrete through the walls of the Zen.

For days we worried. Me, her family,  my tour leader who grew up in Nepal. We worried. And we waited. Eventually news came through that my friend was fine, but as word came through about this, it came through that my tour leader had lost two of his friends. It was an devastating time. We had no idea of what it was that we could do to help and yet we wanted to help.

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Patan Durbar Square. The building on the left was a giant pile of bricks by the end of the earthquake. Incredibly sad that such a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site was so badly damaged and destroyed.

The Nepali government even now is still very disorganized.  While I was there they had a traffic strike over their constitution as they haven’t managed to come to an agreement about it. Coordination efforts for delivering emergency supplies were halted severely by the lack of organization of the government. In such disastrous circumstances coordination is one of the most necessary aspects of getting relief to where it is most needed. It is no use having funds and supplies if they just can’t get to where they are needed. And this was very much the case. Half cooked rations of rice were handed out and no water to many of people of Kathmandu. Charity organizations did the best they could in the circumstances. My friend worked for a few weeks building huts and distributing supplies in villages. But even then this didn’t seem enough.

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With my new friends after finishing our attempt at the Annapurna Circuit. I am so thankful they are still with us. These local boys are amazing people!

Locals started messaging their friends through Facebook and any means necessary in an attempt to get money for families and rebuilding villages. Many foreigners had their own fundraisers and took the money to Nepal themselves to distribute funding. While many of the people mean well and do the right thing with their money, you never quite know where it is that it is going. It is a tough thing to have faith that your money won’t be hoarded by the rich and organizations and not given back to those that are most in need.

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The Pathuputinash. The place where the Hindi people of Nepal cremate and bury their dead in the river that leads into the Ganges.

I feel a massive compulsion to go back. As does my friend and so many others I know that I have been there. My support can go back in the form of hiking and partaking in activities and accommodations within the mountains. The best thing we can do in times like these is help provide support by travelling there and supporting business while they rebuild. I know then where my money goes. I also know that I can spread it around and share it so that it all isn’t going to one place or the deep pockets of those that don’t need it. It is a sad thing that in the biggest times of need for most, many take the opportunity to capitalize. It is always the case in moments of war and natural disaster.

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Cashmere scarves I bought at SK Handicrafts in Kathmandu from my friend Keshab.

So three months on…. The country is still strained.  Things are still far from normal. Some villages still struggle to rebuild. And in the grand scheme of things, most people have moved on and forgotten. But to my friends in Nepal who still live with this everyday I am in awe of your bravery. To those who stay and help, I am in awe of your heart and compassion. My health was facing serious issues at the time and I could not have been a help at the time. But I will get back there soon. And hopefully I can make a difference in a community of people who even before this tragedy showed me great heart and kindness. To one of the most amazing countries I have ever visited, I am still with you Nepal. For now in spirit, but hopefully soon in body too.

Ascending Everest Basecamp


“The mountain always wins. You never win. Occasionally it just decides to let you through.”

With all that has been going on in Nepal in the last month, it has been an emotional time for many, including me. I have worried and feared for friends that were in Kathmandu, I have seen other friends of mine lose loved ones. It has taken a huge toll on many. While for myself, for those who didn’t know, I was evacuated out of Dingbouche on the way to Everest Basecamp with pneumonia and acute pulmonary edema. I was incredibly lucky to be in a place where I could be evacuated or otherwise I could have died. After my stint in the hospital I met someone also evacuated and he said to me ‘the mountain always wins. You never win. Occasionally it just decides to let you through’. This has resonated with me for a while considering the incredible misfortune people have been suffering in Nepal during the earthquakes. It has given me time to reflect on my own trek while I was there before everything went sour for me. The following is the first 8 days of my trek to Everest Basecamp.

Pre-Trip

We didn’t start on the best of notes. The day before we were due to leave I came back to find my friend on the bathroom floor dying of a chest infection. I went to the pharmacy, bought her the best antibiotics I could get my hands on and then fed her paracetamol to lower her fever while I sat in the bathroom with her with hot water steaming out the bathroom while I rubbed tigerbalm on her back and tried to pound some of the crap out of her chest.

The following day, despite still being a total mess we got up and went to the airport as a group to get our flight to Lukla. But there was a thick fog over Kathmandu that day and our flight was delayed until the fog lifted. We sat in the airport for four hours before they said the fog had lifted enough for us to leave. We got onto the bus that took us out to the tarmac to wait for our plane only to be turned around and told that we had had our flight cancelled due to bad weather in Lukla. It was somewhat a blessing in disguise. We got to go home and rest for another day.

Day 1- Kathmandu to Lukla, Lukla to Phakding

Better luck than the day before and the skies were crystal clear and we managed to take our flight to Lukla. We were told that the best kinds of views are seen from the window on the left side of the plane so we rushed our way in to get prime seats. I had never seen anything more spectacular in my life than the view of the mountains as I excitedly flew next to the Himalayas on my way to Lukla.

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The scenic flight from Kathmandu to Lukla with amazing views of the Himilayas.

Before I knew it we were approaching the runway which is pretty much a strip that runs on an incline uphill from a sheer drop at the beginning of a cliff, to a cliff wall at the other end. I could see how it had gained the reputation as being one of the most dangerous airports in the world.

 

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The airport runway in Lukla. Cliff drop on one end, cliff face on the other.

After eating lunch, it was time to start on our way towards Phakding, our first destination for the evening. It was a relatively flat and easy walk and along the way I met the most adorable boy who was drawing with permanent markers. He drew a watch on my wrist with red permanent marker to match his watch that he was wearing and for the rest of the trip I wore that red watch until it eventually rubbed off. Every time I looked at it, it made me smile.

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My new friend drawing me a wrist watch in red permanent marker so I can always tell mountain time.

We arrived in Phakding and checked into our tea house. After dinner it was time for a rest. It had been a long day.

Day 2 – Phakding to Namche Bazaar

It was the first day of solid hiking and as my friend was still not feeling a hundred percent it was a slow day. The views as we progressed along the trail became more and more spectacular as the day progressed. For lunch we stopped in a village where there was a small boy who was believed to have been reincarnated from one of the elderly men in the village down the way. He apparently can tell you who his mother was and other family members from his previous life. Incredible story.

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The young boy was reincarnated from the older man on the left.

As we continued on, we arrived at the foot of the town of Namche Bazaar, the town that was later to be the epicentre of the second massive earthquake within the region. We were staying near the top and it was starting to get dark. It was a long slog up giant staircases but we eventually made it. The night was spent hanging by the fire and playing Monopoly (in which I behaved like a five year old competitive child and won everybody else’s money and properties).

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Giant bridge crossing in massive winds across a canyon.

Day 3 – Day hike to the Everest View Lodge

Acclimatization day number one. We started in the morning in decent enough weather on the climb up to the Everest View lodge. About half way up it started snowing and the weather turned and became freezing. Eventually we made it to the top and sat in the lodge drinking tea and soup, somewhat disappointed that our first ever view of Everest was not going to happen due to the haze covering all of the views. It did have a very eerie and cool feeling to it though.

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The town of Namche Bazaar.

On the way back down we got lost as there was so much snow we couldn’t see the path. At one point we went the wrong way and then had to back track. I fell over in a super muddy patch and got my pants incredibly dirty and yet still laughed the whole way. It was a great day and I was settling well into the routine.

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A wild yak on the mountain on its way down in the snow.

Day 4 – Namche Bazaar to Debouche

I woke up not feeling the best. I was starting to cough a little and my lungs were starting to hurt. We walked the first part on the flat and for the first time I laid my eyes on Everest. She popped her top out from behind a bunch of other mountains. As far away as she was, she was daunting and beautiful. We sent our porter ahead to buy some boiled eggs from a local place and we ate those as a snack before the hard work began… the massive uphill climb to Tengbouche.

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Stunning views from the trail after my first view of Everest.

I struggled. But I kept on going at my own pace with my earphones in and I actually made decent time. At the top I was fairly spent and we tried to go to the Tengbouche monastery but it was not open. I had a rest on the stairs out the front and then made my way down the hill another twenty minutes to Debouche where we sat around by the fire, drank lots of tea and went to bed early.

 

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The monastery at Tengbouche.

Day 5 – Debouche to Dingbouche

I woke up feeling great. The rest had done me good from the day before as had the cold and flu tablets I took to try and kick my symptoms overnight. The hike for the most part of the day was fairly flat along the edge of the mountain ridge towards the holy grail of mountains. Towards the end it was getting very windy and two of my group members started to feel unwell. One of them started vomiting. The altitude was kicking in

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One of the most incredible views I have ever seen in my life.

Eventually we arrived in camp at Dingbouche and got settled in. I bossed the others into drinking heaps of water and got the nurse from the volunteer medical centre to check them over. They both were diagnosed with moderate altitude sickness. I had a test myself and my oxygen levels were normal. My heart rate was getting pretty high though and was 124. I assumed this was somewhat normal for me as I have high resting heart rate anyway. I took a couple of photos on extended shutter of the mountains in the dark and went to bed.

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Stunning moonlight views from Dingbouche.

Day 6 – Dingbouche Day hike

Up early and time to do the acclimatization hike. I was feeling good until I started and as soon as I started uphill I started feeling the effects of the altitude. Breathing was harder. I felt so ridiculously fatigued I didn’t know if I was going to make the top of the hill at 4700m. I kept plugging away at it slowly, determined. I knew that if I couldn’t make this I couldn’t make basecamp and I was determined to do it. I watched everyone else sail up the hill past me and felt rubbish about it. I eventually got there. I sat for half an hour resting and looked out over the most spectacular views. Then I started my descent.

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Completely spent and enjoying the views from 4700m, the highest point I would reach during the hike.

Once I got back to the teahouse I sat with two minus twenty sleeping bags on trying to get warm drinking a 2 litre thermos of hot lemon. I tried to read my book and couldn’t concentrate. I still felt incredibly fatigued and was trying to stay awake for the afternoon and do what I needed to to ward off altitude sickness. Eventually I caved, ate dinner and went to bed.

Day 7 – Getting evacuated from Dingbouche to Kathmandu hospital

At one in the morning I awoke to severe coughing with the realization that I was coughing up handfuls of water. High altitude pulmonary odema had set in and I knew I was in a very serious situation. After a night of trying to be calm and conserve oxygen we sent for the helicopter and they evacuated me back to the hospital in Kathmandu. The dream of getting to Everest basecamp this trip had died. But I knew I would be back to finish what I started at some point later, because I hate not finishing what I started.

If you haven’t read already, check out my blog post “This Week I Almost Died” for a more detailed account of what happened when I got evacuated off of Everest Basecamp trek.

 

 

Happy Holi!!!



Ever since I heard that Holi was on the fifth of March this year I have been excited. I actually pre-organized my treks and my flight to Nepal around my desperate want to experience Holi. So to say that I was excited was an understatement. I was literally like a five year old kid on Christmas.

I got up in the morning, put on my white t-shirt and my blue and white elephant pants from Thailand and headed downstairs in the hostel to get my breakfast and see the gang. I was sitting on the balcony when the first water bomb was thrown by the kids next door from the rooftop. I started laughing and then joined back in. We started to throw water bombs back but they had the height advantage so it was a little more difficult for us. The hostel staff gave me my first colour in the form of a blessing on my forehead and then I started out down the road to meet the local family I was spending Holi with.

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Hanging with the hostel boys getting bombarded by the neighbours

When I arrived in the neighbourhood I had no idea where I was going. I started asking around the locals and they pointed me in the right direction. Once I found where I was going I met up with the family and headed out with one of the boys to explore the neighbourhood. Apparently the locals had heard I was coming and I was a wanted target. I met many groups of kids with water bombs and buckets of water and all of them seemed to be coming my way. I was laughing hysterically and having the best time of it.

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Hanging out with the family at lunch

We eventually wound up at one of the neighbours houses on the roof. I am drowned in water and covered in some colour at this point and the war from the rooftops was about to begin. There was a lone kid on the adjacent roof and he was appearing hard to hit. A cheeky and wiry kid. He got some pretty decent shots in on us too.

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The enemy… neighbourhood kids. Cheeky things!

After eating lunch, we continued to explore the streets and get bombarded with more water bombs and colour before the massive rooftop war between three houses began down the road. I was half stung on a bottle of red wine that they fed me at breakfast so my aim was terrible but I managed to get a few good shots in on unsuspecting neighbours reading newspapers and then when the plastic bags to put the water in ran out, we all danced Nepali dance on the rooftops for an hour before heading downtown to Thamel.

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Dancing on the rooftop with the girls

Thamel was craziness. There were tourists and locals everywhere walking around throwing colour everywhere. Given how wet I was from the massive water fight the colour stuck to me like glue. I was a rainbow of pink, purple, blue, orange, green and yellow powders that eventually covered me to a point of unrecognizable. People would take the colour in their hands and wipe it over your face saying ‘Happy Holi’ in a blessing. By the end of the hour I spent in Thamel, I had it caked in my hair, my face was fluorescent pink and I was a total mess. But I had had the best fun I have had in my life. I even had colour in my teeth given that I ate so much of it while I was laughing.

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The product of Thamel Holi street warfare

Post washing, I still have colour in my hair, my face is still dyed pink and so is my hand and I have one yellow boob and one green one. Quite funny. Every time I look at my dyed skin I smile and remember. What a wonderful and fun celebration that allows people to be kids and just play for the day. If only more people would embrace and play every day in life.

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Post face washing…. still stained pink… 😛

I did think many times during the day back to when I was a kid and we would have birthday parties at the bike centre and my Dad would always play devil’s advocate and bring massive amounts of water bombs and water pistols and start up a massive war. It would always be every kid in the place against him, but he would get his own on most of them first before they would bail him up in the toilet and start pouring water over the toilet door. Parents would get mad because their kids would all be wet going home. But what is a bit of water? Especially when it creates so many smiles. The only thing that could have made my Holi better would have been having my family there. Given the amount of warfare we are used to with these fights as kids, the five of us would have been a formidable Holi force to be reckoned with!

This Week I Almost Died….

So I embarked on Everest Basecamp super optimistically. I had the whole thing planned out in my head of how it would go. I had my diamox to manage altitude sickness, cotton wool to stuff between my toes for blisters, an array of different medications for pain, swelling in my knees, general antibiotics for skin/chest/sinus infections, even pseudoephedrine in case I got a head cold. I was more prepared than most. And yet what I was moving towards was nothing that I could have prepared for…..

Two days out from leaving for our trip, if you had have asked me who was going to make it to the camp of me and my friend, I would have put money on me. She had gotten a chest infection from the dusty pollution of Kathmandu and I worked tirelessly for two days doing everything I could in my power to get her better because this wasn’t just my trip. It was our trip for so many reasons that are too long to explain here. I steamed her in the bathroom, rubbed tiger balm into her back, got her the strongest antibiotics in town and cough syrup and we were set. She was on the mend, not quite 100% but we knew by the time we got her to the top she would be pretty much right. It was an up and down first couple of days but things were starting to look up. She joked that this kind of shit always happens to her and that she would probably wind up helicoptered out like she did at Machu Picchu. I told her “not on my watch!”

And so the days progressed.  By day 5 we were reaching 4400m altitude. I was feeling fine. I was still hungry, drinking lots of fluids, had a little bit of the head cold symptoms I get at altitude and a bit of a cough. But I was feeling good. My friend and one other on the trip however both had splitting headaches from the altitude and were vomiting along the path to reach the destination of Dingbouche. We eventually got there. I went back into nurse mode and started “bossing people” as I called it, forcing a litre of hot water and food into my friend before bed. The village medical researchers came around and we had her checked out. Out of curiosity I put the gadget on my finger to measure my oxygen levels and heart rate. Oxygen good…. Resting heart rate 124… hmmm…. my resting heart rate is pretty high normally so I figured it was my body responding to lack of oxygen in the air and resolved to keep an eye on it. And so we went to bed.

The following day was the day for an acclimatization hike. I was literally dying going up the hill the air felt so thin. It took me 2 hours to get up to the flagpole at 4700m. With iron will there was no way I wasn’t going. If I couldn’t make it here, I couldn’t make basecamp at a higher altitude so my sheer grit and determination said I was going. And I made it. I felt fine sitting at the top for a while and then I started my way back down again, happy I had made it.

That afternoon however I started to feel very weak and like I had no energy. I figured that the altitude had knocked me around a little so I sat upstairs in the dining room and drank 2 litres of how water and ate a soup trying to get my body to acclimatize.  Heart rate still 124. I figured still having appetite was good but I was starting to show some of the symptoms of altitude sickness that the others didn’t have. The head cold was kicking in a bit more and the cough was getting a little worse. But I knew that this was the way my body responded from the first time I ever had altitude sickness so I wasn’t worried. I stopped taking all pain killers and drugs that day to evaluate what my body was actually doing and to try and heal it. It was the best and the worst choice that I had made….

By dinner I had gotten so exhausted I took a nap upstairs in the room with the fire. Despite it, I was still freezing cold. I sat to eat my garlic soup for dinner, took a handful of pills and some cough syrup to knock me out to sleep properly hoping it would be good by morning and went to sleep.

Two hour later I awoke coughing violently. The pills had failed to knock me out. No matter which way I moved I couldn’t lay without it triggering more violent coughing. I could not manage to get in any more than 30 minutes of sleep at a time. By one in the morning I was acutely aware that I was in very big trouble. I was starting to cough up large amounts of water and that I had a lot of fluid on my lungs. Another symptom of altitude sickness that is very serious.  I needed to go down and I needed to go down immediately but it was the middle of the night and no evacuations were happening at one in the morning. 

I got out of bed to go to the toilet. The toilet was maybe ten to fifteen meters down the hall. It took me two minutes to shuffle one foot in front of the other to get there. After getting up I was so out of breath I was leant over the sink coughing and trying to suck air very aware of the fact that my body at that point was trying to drown itself. It was at this very point that I knew I was in very big trouble.  I tried to calm myself and walk back to the room and get back to bed. I laid there propped against the headboard for another 5 hours drifting in and out of fifteen minute intervals of sleep before the sun came up and I woke my friend. “Get the guide. Get the helicopter. I need down now.”

They called for the helicopter. It was coming for me but not for 3 hours. My friend packed my bag for me and I sat in the window frame of the room as the sun streamed through as it was the warmest place I knew of. I sat still. I tried to be calm. I tried not to move for fear of having more breathing and coughing attacks. I went to the toilet again and ran into some dumb bitch who is saying to me “oh you are getting helivacced out! I thought you looked sick last night but like you know what? You’re in the Himalayas and that is like amazing so like whatever”. If I had have had the energy I would have smacked her in the chops for being so dumb and ignorant, I was that ill, frustrated and annoyed. Who says that? It felt like forever waiting and waiting and then next thing I knew, it was time.

People rushed into my room to collect my bags and took off running. The helicopter was here and impatient and does not wait. People are trying to push me faster along and I could not suck the air in to manage it. I had no strength to walk that fast. Before I knew it, one of the sherpas has a hold of my arms and is pulling me over his back and dragging me along like luggage, my feet semi dragging along behind me on the ground. After dragging me over one rock wall, the next sherpa grabs my arms and throws me on his back and starts running with me across the paddock to the next rock wall which he climbs over and then puts me down. Next it was my porter, the amazing Lalit’s turn to carry me. The man, like all of the others, is shorter than I am and hauling my 70kg  arse on their backs while running. Dressed like a smurf in his blue jacket and hat with his yellow scarf, he threw me on his back and ran me the rest of the way to the helicopter.

As I sat in the helicopter I looked out of the window to see my whole crew standing there waving me on in support. My friend was videoing for her adventure video as she promised me she would and several thoughts passed through my mind. The first was “I hope she filmed the sherpas carrying me through the paddocks and across the rock walls cause my god that would have looked funny” and then this massive feeling of being overwhelmed hit me as I sat there in the helicopter and started to cry. I put my hand on the helicopter window kind of like Rose in Titanic and the helicopter took off, taking my dream of Everest Basecamp and my friends away from me.

I tried to stay calm. I tried to concentrate on the amazing mountains where I was. It was the cheapest scenic helicopter ride I was ever going to get so I may as well focus. The helicopter landed back in Lukla. They were originally sending me right then. But then they changed their mind and moved me to another helicopter. Then they changed their mind again and took me out of the helicopter and told me I had to wait for the next one to Kathmandu. At this point they put me in the kitchen with a cup of hot water.  Despite increase in temperature and oxygen levels, breathing wasn’t becoming easier. I knew I needed medical attention and I needed it now. But sitting there in the kitchen unaware of my condition and not really giving a shit, the helicopter guys lit up their cigarettes beside me and I forced my way up and out of the kitchen back outside to the fresh air. They didn’t want me out there. I didn’t care. I had no energy in me to fight them. One of them fed me a noodle soup for lunch. I asked about the helicopter. Over another hour they tell me. I am furious inside but I have no breath or energy to get mad and fight with them. I wanted to yell at them “I am in serious fucking trouble here and you’re more stressed about your fucking cargo. Get me out of here” but alas, no air and no words. 

The time eventually came and I got on the helicopter and made my way back to Kathmandu in the front seat of the helicopter, taking stock of the view and somewhat meditating on it to calm me throughout the ride. The helicopter eventually touched down at the Kathmandu airport and was met with an ambulance to take me to the hospital. They kept trying to make me lay down on the trolley in the back of the ambulance but I refused and kept sitting.  They strapped me to the oxygen machine and then we flew into crazy Kathmandu traffic with the ambulance siren wailing. My first time in an ambulance. 

Upon arrival at the hospital they put me in the emergency section and took my vitals. Much to my surprise. I had a high fever. I guess getting the chills in minus degree weather isn’t a really strong indicator so I missed it. This is also what caused my tachycardia. I overlooked why I had high heart rate. After listening to my chest I was told I had an infection in my right lung. They x-rayed my chest, inserted a shunt into my hand and started me on antibiotics immediately.  As I was sitting upstairs in my hospital room with the nebulizer on my face and the drip hanging out of my arm the doctor comes in to tell me that I have pneumonia. The infection had also moved from my lungs into my blood as well. But they were treating it all and it should be fine.

I messaged my mum from the hospital then with a picture of my feet in bed saying “greetings from hospital” and making jokes about it. I make jokes and look for the positives in everything. But it wasn’t until later the next day after a sleep that the actual reality of the situation set in. If weather was bad that day, there would have been no helicopter. If I had have stayed at high altitude in minus five with no heater for another 24 to 48 hours, I probably would have drowned myself in my own lung fluid. While pneumonia seemed such a funny thing to me as I was healing and being pumped full of drugs and high on cough syrup and because I was safe in a hospital bed, the reality was I got very lucky. It set on so acutely that even in those moments at 3am sitting in a dark room waiting for the sun, I knew I was in very big trouble but I wasn’t admitting to myself how big of a trouble I was in. Like always I fought with all I had and I knew I had to ask for help. The whole thing now seems somewhat surreal. I still sit in a hospital bed, but I can walk around and do things for myself. Except for the cough I feel relatively healthy. 48 hours ago I was on deaths door. Never before have I been so sick that I needed a hospital or that it was something I couldn’t handle myself. I’ve never been that person before. In all honesty, it scared the crap out of me.

So this week we say hallelujah for modern medicine, hallelujah for helicopters and hallelujah to not dying this week. My lifelong aversion to the word no extends out to “no, I am not dying this week” and so I live to see another day and another adventure. And you can bet your arse I am coming back to Nepal to finish what I started. Nothing beats me. Not Everest Basecamp. And certainly not pneumonia. Until the next adventure 🙂

 

Planning My Upcoming Trip

I have long since adopted this philosophy since I met a very wise and drunk Irish friend in New Zealand that there is no plan is a good plan, but instead it should be an outline. One of those hazy wiggly lines with which you can bend about to fit things in without shading in the entire shape to make it solid and inflexible.

So my flexible wiggly outline this time involves a one way ticket to Indonesia, and a booking to hike Everest Base Camp at the end of March. When originally sitting down to plan my way back off to the glorious travel land, I was going to head back to Canada through Hawaii because it is cheaper to go via Hawaii than direct and then I would head to South America to teach English and learn more Spanish.

My friend Bec then messages me one day saying she wants to go on a holiday and how do I feel about Asia somewhere in the school holidays? So after sitting and researching all of the amazing temples in Java, the spectacular volcanoes, komodo dragons, beaches, I set my heart on Indonesia. And then Bec told me she didn’t have enough holidays accrued at work. So I planned other things and figured I would get to Indonesia on my own when I left Australia and then it would be cheaper to go through the Philippenes back to LA and then down to South America…..

One random Friday afternoon after work, Jetstar announced a 4 hour only sale of $99 one way tickets from Melbourne to Bali. And so I messaged Bec, said ‘will you have enough holidays in December?’ she says yes and on a random whim we book cheap tickets. And so ‘planning’ part one had begun.

I also a couple of weeks after this in amongst the height of other friends carrying on about the giant deal and stress of pending 30th birthdays and how old we are all getting and the rest, another friend messages me with this 66% off Groupon to go and hike Everest Base Camp. So I was like, well, I will be in Asia, that is close enough. I can’t think of anything else better to do for my birthday than hide in the Himalayas where I don’t have any internet and don’t have to deal with the fuss of it. Let’s go hike Mount Everest! So in a random spur of the moment event, I booked that.

At this point in time I realize that I am now further away from Hawaii, the Philippenes, South America… all the places I planned on going originally and that this is going to put me at a point where I will be in my last years of potentially having work visas. And so the squeeze of 30 finally sets in. Not because I feel old, but because the governments of specific countries stipulate that over 30 is too old.

So now I sit with the idea that “Well, I am in Nepal, so I may as well go to India and travel there. Then I may as well go get a work visa for either Canada or the UK again. Hell! Why not get both just to keep my options open!?” And so all of a sudden I find myself getting further and further away from the original plan of South America and yet I am still super excited! I know one day South America will happen, but given my flightiness, my need to get as much done with work visas while I still can, and my constant deviations of original ideas, I guess ‘planning’ a trip is one of those things that I am good at and yet not good at. I somehow spontaneously managed to come up with this outline. What I will do when I get there is yet to be determined, but there is an outline nonetheless…. I am sure that that outline will get more contorted somehow, but either way, it is going to be a fun ride! And you can follow along with me to see just how contorted ‘not planning’ can become!