Nepal: Where it all Began
As a kid in New Zealand, I grew up with stories of how Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had been the first to successfully reach the summit of Mount
Everest, and return to tell the tale. With Nepal just a few hours away from Dubai, it was only a matter of time before I could fulfil a childhood dream to visit this place I’d read so much about as a student.
My first trip was in the summer of 2007 after completing my first year as an international teacher. I couldn’t have predicted back then, that this would have been the first of more than a dozen return trips to this magical place full of amazing mountains and beautiful people. I went with a teacher colleague who suggested going to Nepal so we could take some footage, and create a short video to promote one of the charities in Kathmandu. However, no itinerary would have been complete without venturing out among the Himalayas too!
The first week was spent in Kathmandu meeting up with a local friend who showed us around many of the amazing Temple sites, as well as a few orphanages and community projects. It was a week that seeded a deep appreciation for the welcoming nature of the Nepalese people and a desire to experience more.
I was determined to see Everest and explore up as far as possible with a guided trek, but was recommended to try the Annapurna mountains instead. So with a guide organised and gear packed, I was stuffed into a small bus where I travelled the 200kms in around eight hours to beautiful Pokhara. The first thing that struck me about this lakeside community and gateway to the Annapurna ranges, was the impressive figure of the sacred Machapuchare or ‘Fish Tail’ Mountain in the distance.
My guide was a small guy named Khadka or ‘KB’ to his friends, who was local to the area and interested in how much I was attempting to carry in my pack. He had turned up on the first day of the expected 10-day trek with nothing more than a tiny school bag while I had around 15kgs strapped to my back.After climbing nothing but steps for the first couple of days, I managed to whittle down the pack weight by donating spare T-shirts and towels to whoever would take them.
As we made our way up into the Annapurnas, the scenery was nothing short of spectacular and something that my words could ever do justice. Staying in charming tea-houses and spending time with humble Nepalese people in villages along the way was great fun, and passing young students completing school work with million dollar views was surreal. The next few days took KB and I through lush forested steps which soon gave way to the more rugged alpine terrain.
Sections of ice often covered our path on sloped ground which I managed to gingerly traverse with my hiking boots, while KB trotted over them with ease in his old pair of trainers. As we neared the Annapurna Base Camp site I was dwarfed in the shadow of its peak at more than 8,000m above sea level, and many of the other peaks well over the 7,000m mark.watch The Boss Baby 2017 movie online now
There was a great sense of satisfaction to reach Base Camp and spend time in awe of the sheer size of the surrounding mountains. Sleeping at night took a little extra effort due to the thinner air, and I found myself waking often to the moonlit mountain views outside my window. KB and I had made our way to this point a little more than 4,000m above sea level in just a few days, so resting up for a night or two was a welcome chance to recharge. We were also super lucky with the weather, which had allowed for remarkable sunrises and sunsets to reveal nature’s full spectrum of vivid colours.
A climbing team set to go a lot further up into the Annapurnas than I was prepared for, left Base Camp at the same time I began my descent.I couldn’t stop thinking about the incredible views they would score as they scaled further up to the higher camps and potentially up to the summits. The trek back down past the villagers with their big smiles and simple way of life left me wanting more of this charmed little country.
With a few more days in Kathmandu, I was able to make some great contacts at various institutions who were in need of some assistance. It was at this point that the first school trip was hatched in order to gather donations and expose our international students to what Nepal has to offer. In the following academic year, the first group of students from Deira International School were on the way to Nepal, with bags and boxes full of clothes, toys and learning materials for underprivileged children.
It was to be the first of several trips to Nepal with which all have had significant impact on our students. We now go to Nepal with groups of students every 2 years with the next one taking place in November of this year. Gaining an appreciation for the plight of countless children in orphanages, and getting a lot out of physically handing over materials to put so many smiles on faces, is priceless. Getting our students out into the mountains and experiencing the awe of the Himalayas has also been truly rewarding, and hopefully fostering a long term connection with the wonderful place that is Nepal.
Words + Photos by: Haydon Kerr