The Beginnings of a Nepal Trekking Plan

November 22, 2009 11 Comments »

The Himalayas were beckoning me...

Tiger Balm Tales – Vol. 1

Why? Such a simple question, yet it resonated in my head many, many times on my most recent trip to Nepal.

Why was I going back to Nepal?
Why did I ask my dad to come with me?
Why did he decide to actually come with me?

At this point in my 26-day journey (pre-departure), I could really only answer the first two questions. I have to start by explaining one of the many weird quirks about myself – I HATE doing the same thing twice. Once I’ve done something or accomplished something or been somewhere, I don’t have any desire to do it again.  I guess I figure that the world is such a HUGE place that why go see something again when you can see a new place or experience a new restaurant, etc?  This quirk can be rather frustrating at times since I am often in mental struggles with my psyche that go something like “Why can’t you just be satisfied with standing still and staying put; doing things like everyone else?” Yet I’ve had to accept that this is who I am, take it or leave it. However this trip meant I was bucking the system, I was taking my precious travel time and going back to a country and area that I had already been to a year prior. But in some weird way, because I had never gone back to a visited place before, it meant that it was sort of a ‘new’ thing to do and I wanted to see how I felt about it. Yes – my mind is a bit twisted at times.

The village of Puma
My last trip to Nepal one year ago was strictly about volunteering and not necessarily about traveling as a tourist. Volunteering in the tiny, remote village of Puma was one of the hardest things I had ever taken on, but I survived; and therefore I wanted to go back primarily to see how the people I had met and bonded with were doing. I had other reasons though too – after a year of living in Vietnam, I wanted to see how it had changed me and going back to a challenging country seemed to be a good way to take the temperature of that change. Finally, I honestly wanted to trek. When I was there last time, I trekked from village to village not on any tourist trails. However I had always wanted to hike the Annapurna circuit so I felt like this was my chance to do so.

I had made some key contacts on my last trip there who could help me arrange such a trekking trip. The brother of the family I lived with in Puma ran a travel/trekking agency in Kathmandu and I had stayed in contact with him for the last year. Giri was eager to arrange all of my trekking, in addition to my journey back to Puma to see his sister and mother. Oct/Nov is the best time of the year to trek in Nepal – so that scene was set; I had chosen a time and a person in Nepal who could help me get it all organized. The only thing missing was a travel companion.

For me this always tends to be the thing that I’m missing. I suppose if I would pick some ‘easier’ places to travel to besides Mongolia and Nepal I might have a better chance of friends coming with me. The problem is that ‘easy’ isn’t really part of my vocabulary. No friends were interested in the trip to Nepal (maybe they had read my blog posts from last year and the leaches scared them away?), so I next went searching for a family that might like to come with me. Brother has no passport – cross him out. Mother thinks Singapore is ‘too scary’ – cross her out. Sister and brother-in-law would love to go trekking, but taking a month off of work and kids was impossible – cross them out. That left my father. He had already traveled to China with me, he enjoyed going to foreign countries, he loved mountains and trekking (I’m assuming this fact since he used to drag us kids on vacations in Wyoming camping all the time), and he – like me – was always looking for something new and unusual to do.

My father and I on the Great Wall

From an outsider’s point of view, my dad is really quite adventurous in a quirky way. He and my mom once traveled from Seattle to New Zealand and back on a freighter. Plus, for the last 25 years, he’s been walking to/from US capital cities on an intricate path around the USA. This fact alone could be a whole separate blog post I may explore at some point! But for now, let’s just say that he’s a bit quirky…and apparently that’s where I get my own quirkiness from. It took me 39 years to figure that out though.

I asked my dad if he wanted to join me as I really thought that he, out of any of my family or friends would appreciate the simplicity of Nepal and the rural lifestyle of the villages. Plus, at 73 years old, I felt like it would be quite an opportunity to see the mountains of Nepal. After a lot of uncertainty and pressure from others in the family (the most coming from my mom), he decided to join me. Game on…

The Tiger Balm Tales will be a series of posts and photo documentaries that chronicle our father-daughter journey to Nepal for 26 days; the trekking, the people, the culture, the great heights (and some lows), and the excessive use of Tiger Balm.

After the whole trip was over my comment was, “For the rest of my life, every time I smell Tiger Balm it will remind me of Nepal.”

I hope you enjoy the journey…

Continue with Tiger Balm Tales vol. 2 – Preparing the Parents

To read my other ‘travel series’ check out:
The Spice Diaries – volunteering in Delhi India for a month
Dhal Bhat Days – volunteering in Nepal last year
The Motorbike Diaries – learning how to drive a motorbike in Nepal

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