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Postcard of the Week: The Himalayas

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All visitors to Nepal begin in the capital city Kathmandu, at the country’s only international airport. Before they then head off west to scenic Pokhara or north to trek the mammoth Himalayas, they invariably spend a day or two in Thamel, the tourist heart of Kathmandu. Personally I found Thamel of little interest with no real character, however its one merit is that it does have a fairly good selection of souvenirs and locally produced crafts on sale in its many low-ceiling shops stocked to the brim with trinkets. Down one leg of the labyrinth that is Thamel, we meandered past a shop selling purely handmade paper products. Along with some colourful Tibetan bunting that now decorates our bedroom in Bhalu Khola, I picked up a small set of these adorable handmade pop-up cards depicting the Himalayas for which Nepal is so famous.

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         While my experience of the Himalayas during this trip is limited to a glance out of the airplane window, the tallest mountain range in the world is for obvious reasons one of the country’s main tourist attractions. While everyone knows of the 2-week treks you can do to Everest Base Camp, I’ve also heard that Annapurna is more visually impressive. In summer last year my friend Rupert and I went to a talk at London’s Stanford Travel Bookshop, given by Kenton Cool (what a name!), a mountaineer who’s summited Everest 11 times and works professionally as a guide. At that point I had zero plans of travelling to Nepal in the immediate future and I knew very little about the country beyond Mount Everest and various documentaries about Mallory & Irvine’s fatal attempt back in 1924.

          A few month’s later at a birthday party I met a guy who by complete coincidence is attempting to climb Everest this May with the very same Kenton Cool, not only once but twice! Coincidentally also called Rupert, if he and Kenton succeed then Rupert will become will become the youngest man to ever complete this feat at just 24. By another strange coincidence, Rupert is from the very same village in West Sussex where I spent a very large part of my childhood, in idyllic Bosham, and he’s raising money for the local Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice. Do take a look at his website: http://www.everest2k16.com/

          These cards may be the closest I get to the Himalayas on this trip, but who knows what the future holds. My co-Team Leader Asha and I are already plotting our future adventures to Everest Base Camp (although Asha is tiny and my legs carry me about twice as fast as hers!) so I shall keep these cards proudly displayed to remind me of our promise to make it to the Himalayas one day!

Are you tempted by the Himalayas or have you been there yourself? What were they like? Let me know in the comments below.

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