- Pre-Deployment Training Weekend:
- On the weekend of the 7th-8th of September, our students took part in a training course to prepare for their upcoming expedition to Nepal on the 17th October. This training course saw them work on various first aid drills, learning numerous essential skills before they are deployed.
All good so far! We left Ampleforth in good time to get to Manchester Airport on Thursday. We arrived with three hours before our flight was due to leave but we needed it! It took us over two hours to get through check-in because the processing was so slow. Then security was another slow go area! But, we were on the plane in time and thankfully there were no mishaps with paperwork or passports! The first leg was seven hours to Abu Dhabi then after a 4 1/2 hour hop skip and a jump we arrived in Kathmandu at 3:30 pm local time.
Airport delays continued with the processing of visas and baggage collection but we got through and were greeted by the Nepal branch for True Adventure with flower garlands and smiling faces. Divided into four vehicles we then wound our way through the slow moving yet chaotic Kathmandu traffic and arrived in Thamal district at the Kathmandu Guesthouse around 6 pm. After a brief from Major Ram Gurung (our in country rep) we had our first Gurkha curry followed by an evening of sorting out bags and a relatively early night. Tomorrow we shall visit Kathmandu tourist sites and have our first shopping excursion into the Thamal.
Today was our first full day in Kathmandu. Having arrived the night before in darkness it was strange for the team to depart from the hotel this morning into the busy, bustling and dirty narrow streets of Thamel (the district we are staying in). Today was all about sightseeing, shopping and settling in to life in Nepal. The morning started with a bus ride to Swayambunath (the Monkey Temple). This involved climbing to great heights to look over Kathmandu and enjoy the burning incense burning around the impressive stupa. From there we made our way into the centre of old Kathmandu (Durbar Square) where we visited the Golden Temple and everyone in the party was blessed by the living Goddess!
This must have helped us make our journey to the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal (Buddhanath) slightly easier, since we got there unimpeded. This is where we had lunch before returning to the hotel allowing the students a chance for a short spell of shopping before going for dinner at one of the local restaurants. The day ended with another brief opportunity to shop before the students returned to the hotel where they were briefed on the busy schedule ahead for tomorrow. We shall leave in four hours to drive the seven hour journey to Pokhara.
An early start today lead us to our transport for the long journey to Pokhara. It seemed too good to be true when we were driving through almost empty streets up to the main pass and sure enough it was too good to be true. A broken down lorry meant the usual delay was enjoyed by us all! However, we soon found our rhythm and made good progress. That is until the drive shaft broke! So in the end we got to our destination after about eight hours: not too bad considering. After checking in we had time to visit Lakeside before celebrating Mass and then enjoying a little bit of shopping. Tomorrow we shall meet some of the villagers from our trek route destinations who now live in Pokhara before driving they’re in what should be a 5 to 6 hour journey. We then begin the long trek phase and we shall be without Wi-Fi for the next four days.