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  The Chatter Box : Travel
Nepal, anyone? by BrenC on 26 July 2004 4:00pm
Hi guys,

New onsite - first thing I did was read Michael's Messages, which included a plea to continue travelling and not give in to fear. Very moving, very true.

However, I'm due to go to Nepal next March and at first was just worried about altitude and sheer drops - but so many of my friends have exclaimed about the dangers of Maoist extremists...

Any one been there lately (apart from MP himself obviously)?

Re: Nepal, anyone? by Godfather on 26 July 2004 9:48pm
Hi Bren,

My last visit to Nepal was 2002. So, fairly recent. Go to Nepal,and have a wonderful time. The country has always had internal problems like the ones currently in the news. It's simply that certain events there which would not of even made the back pages in newspapers before 2001, are all hyped up nowadays,now that the world is suddenly interested in anything that might be labelled as "terrorism".

The effects of Altitude upon you personally,is something you cannot predict until you're up there i'm afraid. Assuming you dont know all this already,i'll go through the basics. Fitness is not an indication of immunity to altitude sickness. Infact,reports show that fitter people tend to get a dose for the simple reason that they rush up the mountains far too enthusiastically and find they've not acclimatized properly.

Their body fitness lured them into a false sense of security. Being slightly unfit means you cannot help but take your time and rest often. This helps tremendously to acclimatize you well in short stages. Slow down to the Nepalese pace of life and things will get easier. Helps a lot there.

The standard and common rules for acclimatization are to take it slow and easy as you trek,and observe your body reactions as you go. You'll just notice that climbing up an incline which is not particulary steep, will seem a lot harder than it would of at lower level. It feels a bit perplexing at first,because you know you've got the power in you,but it just does'nt seem to be there while you trek.

If you notice the early general signs such as light headache and a little diziness,then stop,rest for a while and take it easy (perhaps even for the rest of the day, if you have the time).

That evening, if you notice the bizzare effects that sometimes occur, such as a racing heart,loss of appetite,unusually deep or unusually shallow breathing,or broken sleep (what a nice mix),then it means you're suffering a bit from altitude sickness. In the evening time there is'nt much you can do about it really,and it's not much to worry about anyway. If you are in a position to do so, then you could lower your altitude. Staying the night at that lower altitude will properly acclimatize you the previous level.

You can try again to go to a higher level next day. If you keep getting problems,or if you get more serious symptoms (such as really pounding headache,wheezing cough,or disorientation),then simply turn back,call it off and dont go any higher under any circumstances.

Most people tend to adjust to light and general Altitude sickness (which is what most people will only have to be concerned with below 3-5,000 Metres), so it's quite normal to feel the slight headache and heavy feeling as you walk, aswell as feeling tired even on the most basic short walk. But, some people just dont adjust to it and re-occuring signs are an indication that you've reached your alt limit and should'nt try to go higher. Ignoring it is silly.

Most people's first treks in Nepal are in the Annapurna region. The popular treks like "ABC" (also called Annapurna basecamp,or Annapurna Sanctuary), reaches a max altitude of 3,900mtrs. The other much longer trek called the "Annapurna Circuit" reaches a max altitude of 5,300mtrs on the Thorung La pass, but is lower in other areas of the circuit. But there are countless other lower level walks all around that region around the peaks, which are stunning and have incredible views of the scenery anyway.

Regarding Maoists. Well,i've been lucky because on my first visit in 1999 they were just something in the remote regions,and never seen. In 2002,i was doing other things in Nepal and not trekking. So there was no problem. Just a few more checkpoints than normal. But since then,they've moved into popular areas such as Annapurana. My parents went last year (03) and met Maoists on a section of a lower altitude Annapurna trail. Most rural Maoists are uneducated idealistic kids,with a Che Guevara thing going on. They were arriving in trekkers lodges and collecting donations from trekkers for their "Cause". Easy pickings i suppose.

In such a situation,it's certainly best not to "Refuse" to pay, but many people apparently voiced their opposition (calmly) to what they were doing, and told this to them straight. So the Maoists are aware that this is not popular,and many tourists dont support their ideals. The most they ask from people is Nrs1000 ($14 or £7). Some loud mouths have apparently got angry with them over this (a very stupid thing to do with someone who's armed) and apparently a French guy on another occasion got a smack on the head for shooting his mouth off. Not advisable.

Being uneducated kids,makes them more dangerous in that kind of situation. Remain friendly and polite (as they are, by all reports i've heard) and you wont have any problem with them. The Maoists have for years been saying that their quarrel is not with tourists and will not harm them ever,as they well aware how important to the economy,tourism is. Yet, they're getting daring with this money collection thing. The Nepalese government is naturally annoyed that their prime trekking area has been taken over by Maoists,so i should imagine that by the time you go,the area may be cleared of it.

Re: Nepal, anyone? by BrenC on 27 July 2004 6:37pm
Ta muchly :)

Think I'm probably just looking for excuses not to put myself through the grind of preparing for hike (and then actually doing it).

I'll be going to Nepal with a charity hike, run by Across the Divide on behalf of Mencap.

If anyone is located in UK or Ireland, it's open for anyone to sign up (and raise some dosh for a good cause).

Anybody want more details??

Re: Nepal, anyone? by Godfather on 27 July 2004 6:50pm

Do you know which Hike will you be doing,B? I may end up back in Nepal on my next trip. So i may see you on the "path"
Re: Nepal, anyone? by Kathmandu Cowboy on 17 October 2004 5:48pm
Just found Michael's site - well impressed. Been to Nepal fair few times and just launched my own website - www.trekhimalayas.com. Would advise anyone to go. If you take normal precautions as for any third world country you will be fine. People v.friendly, scenery stupendous, only drawback - once is never enough!
Re: Nepal, anyone? by Ken Dunn on 22 October 2004 6:33pm
There was a report on BBC's Newsnight programme last night about the Maoists in Nepal and it made things look quite bleak for some of the local people. You need to remember that, in some cases, these news reports are about small areas and a very large percentage of the country is unaffected by, or protected from, the disruption.
Re: Nepal, anyone? by Godfather on 24 October 2004 9:45am
Plus,along with the bad side that has affected locals,there is a good side for travellers. Nepal is getting a rest from heavy tourism. It will sound very selfish and opportunist to say this, but i'll be honest. Like the Indian side of Kashmir which was heavily over touristed years ago,Nepal has been hit in a similar way. When i first went to Kashmir in 1997, it was like a ghost state with military convoys on the road up from Jammu,sand bag roadblocks,but also free reign for chilling out there and pony trekking without seeing another soul around.

My experience in Kashmir was beautiful simply because it was deserted of visitors, and people had returned to their normal way of life, rather than the daily tout it must of been in the 1980's. A houseboat that would of cost Rs2000+, was now in the 100's. In 1999 it was a little safer,but still relatively deserted. Now it's getting much better and visitors are going back. Trouble spots fortunately (and unfortunately) do tend to make for the most impressionable travel experiences because the locals are not stuck in a rut of cheesy tourism. Nepal had been full on in tourism until 2001.

Now it's suffering from a huge drop. But as a traveller, that means it's like a ghost town in many areas. Prices are cheaper for hotels, and you can trek without staring at other people's back. I first went in 1997, and again in 2002. The difference was astounding. People were more relaxed and just going about their daily lives, and tourism was ticking over in a friendly and laid back way, instead of bursting at the seams.
Re: Nepal, anyone? by steveb on 29 October 2004 3:46pm
Just got back from Nepal 2 weeks ago. We were meant to go to Everest Base Camp (the Nepal side) but there had been no flights in or out of Lukla for 5 days - 700 people stuck up there running out of food & water, including one guy with a broken leg.
We cut our losses and flew to Pokhara. From there we got a bus to Naya Pul then made our way to Annapurna Base Camp via Ghorepani, Tadapani, Chomrong, Bamboo and Macchapuchhre Base Camp. The whole experience was amazing.
Yes there were setbacks (leeches up to 3000m, and they get everywhere) but the scenery and the warmness of the Nepali people more than made up for it.
As far as the Maoists go, when we were in Kathmandu they'd called a 2-day general strike, but buses and taxis had signs over their number plates saying "Tourists only" and went about ok. In the Annapurna region our Sirdar contacted the Maoists, paid a $15 tax, got a receipt and that was the end of it. A group of Indian guys told us they'd been stopped and had some jewellery stolen, but the view of the Nepali guides was that this wasn't done by Maoists, just opportunist thieves who would be in dead trouble if the real Maoists caught them.
Most Western countries have advised their citizens not to travel to Nepal. In my view this is an overreaction and a great shame, as it's crippling the livelihood of people who make their living from trekkers. Pokhara was like a ghost town, and most of our guides were only getting half their usual number of jobs.
Unless the situation deteriorates badly, I would advise anyone to get over there and have a great time.
(ps if you have any interest in climbing, get to the Rum Doodle bar in Kathmandu!)

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