Giant Wooden Penis; Daily Vlog: 26

We wake early and hit the windy roads towards Punakha. We know there are scheduled road blocks due to road construction and we are expecting long delays. We get to the first road  block and wait for around 40 minutes, this is not bad as it gives me time to wander around the area and take in all the sights and smells. It was a really interesting spot to get a feal for the local people and the culture. You see the local people set up make shift markets at these road blocks and sell there produce. There is everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh corn cooked on an open fire as well as the local porridge cooked on the side of the road. I was able to indulge myself in one of my favourite pastimes, “People Watching”, giving a rare glimpse into the Bhutanese travel industry.

Once through the first lot of road blocks we made it to the High Pass and the Stupa. We are at over 3000m again and you could feel the altitude, I was still loving the extra red blood cells i had left over from my hike to Mt Everest Base Camp, making this rather quick climb to altitude much easier. I was however starting to feel a little car sick, the windy roads were playing buggers with my stomach. Anyway at the top we stopped at a Tea House were I had some morning tea. Usually you are able to see over the Himalaya’s but the clouds were so thick we couldn’t see the car park. Pelma my guide treated me to a Butter Tea and some local porridge, which is usually for new years celebration in this area of Bhutan. I quite liked the butter tea, it is super sweet but quite nice, the porridge on the other hand i was not a fan. The texture was kind of like thick gooey mud with hard grains and filled with chunks of some kind of meat. The meat part was not actually that bad but i was not a fan.

We finally reached Punakha and had lunch at restaurant that was pretty obvious on the tourist route. The car park was filled with tourist vans and the only local people inside were

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The Punakha Restaurant Penis

the tour guides. I much prefer to be in a real local resturuant/ corner shop style eatery but I understand the need or want for travel companies to provide a “Clean” or “Western” place to eat for there customers. This probably would be fine for 90% of tourists but for me, a more authentic experience is what i seek. After lunch, which I might just add, was absolutely incredible we walked up to the Chime Lhakhang, the temple of the Devine

Madman. One of my favourite stories from Bhutan is the story of the Devine Madman, who slayed a demon with his Penis, yes you did read that correctly, now you see penis’s all over town. They paint them on their house’s walls, hang them from ceilings, have them in restaurants to protect them selves from demons. Some times if you are lucky and the local Lama is around you can get blessed by getting donked on the head with a giant wooden penis.

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I Love U Kiss Me

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Epic View of the Punakha Fortress

That afternoon we went to visit the Punakha Fortress (Puna Dechen Phodrang Dzong) that was built in 1636-1639. This place is HUGE, completely amazing and set in such a beautiful location.

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Fortress Painting

I could easily of spent hours wandering around this awe inspiring building. I have been struggling to film and document the beauty that I have seen behind the walls of these buildings. You can not film or take photo’s inside any temple or fortress, so the mystery of Bhutan still alive. I can tell you that the walls are covered in breathtaking art work depicting the battles between gods and demons, or the history behind Buddhism and stories of what have shaped Bhutan. Each temple will have a different local deity and there is no way that I could ever remember them all or even begin to understand Buddhism to that depth. I did find each story super interesting and I always got something special from each story.

 

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane

Magical Takin’s and A Man with a beard. Daily Vlog: 25

I wake up early and have to pinch myself, I am actuality in Bhutan. I have a great breakie over looking the breathtaking Thimphu River and the Olympic Stadium. Our first stop of the day is the Changangkha Monastery and the celebration of the passing of “The Man With The Beard” sorry I don’t have his Bhutanese Name. The Man With The beard is loved in Bhutan and you see his statue everywhere. The celebration was an incredible site to see, it was an opportunity for me to see real Bhutanese Buddism celebrations first hand. All though I could not take the camera in side the monastery i can tell you it was incredible. I let the scent of incense the sound of bells and prayer wheels along with the power of chanting wash over me. I felt blessed to have been able to share this moment with the 100’s of locals all celebrating in that monastery.

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The coolest and my new favourite animal in the world

Have you heard about the national animal of Bhutan the Takin? A half Cow half Goat looking creature that has a very unique local story of how it become? The Man With The Beard who came to Bhutan from Tibet and brought with him Tibetian Buddism was not loved nor recognised as anyone special. He was mistreated by the local religious people at the time, however this did not bother him. One night at dinner he was given only the bones of a cow and a goat to eat. He said some very powerful words over the bones and the Takin appeared and walked out side. Since that day The Man With A Beard has been worshipped in Bhutan. I love hearing these mythical stories of  the countries that I visit. They give you a little insight into the history of the land and its culture.

Bhutan has really had a profound effect on myself, I really love its peaceful and unspoilt landscape. My guide Pelma took me for a walk through the forrest. One of the most peaceful places I have ever been. I could easily of stayed there for hours. We walked along this track and appeared at the Tango and Wangditse Dzong monasteries. They are currently in a full on restoration project phase. They burnt down due to a Butter Lamp incident. This was a common occurrence through out Bhutan. So many times i had seen monasteries with fire damaged areas. Now a lot of the monasteries have a separate area for the butter lamps. I found it fascinating that these monasteries are both a tourist spot and still getting used constantly from the locals for worship. Bhutan has a very interesting concept behind tourism and seems to work for them. These sacred places are still enjoyed by the local people. I would always see local kids, parents and grand parents laughing and enjoying the great weather. It was very refreshing after the chaos of Kathmandu.

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Amazing Bhutan

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Bhutanese Prayer flags over Thimphu

Our van boke down so we had an opportunity to walk around Thimphu for a few hours. Pelma showed me the Archery competition, which i found very interesting. The competition is in this field in the middle of the town and you can just wonder in and watch. There is not fencing or barriers stopping you walking across the field and i watched as people did just that many times. The local stray dogs would walk across and even lay down in the middle of the paddock and no one seemed worried. In Australia there would be so many barriers up stopping you from getting close enough to see anything and don’t forget a huge fee to watch the event.

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Bhutanese archery

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Suger cane at the Farmers market

I got to wonder through a local market place as well as the local farmers market, one of my favourite pass times. I love walking around these types of places. The smells the noise the people and the stuff. It is just a great way to see how the locals really live, how they really trade there goods for stuff that they need.

 

 

 

Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport, if you have liked this post please feel free to share with you family and friends. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and simply clicking on the “Follow” button on the bottom of the screen.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

The Land of Dragons and Happiness; Daily Vlog: 24

Today I leave Nepal for one place that has intrigued me for years, one place that I has held the world imaginations, a place that being happy is more important than the countries Gross National Product. Today I land in Bhutan, “The Land of the Thunder Dragon” and the famous “Gross National Happiness.

The flight over was amazing in itself, We could see the Himalaya’s and had one of the most impressive landings. As we were starting our decent, the captain says “For those that have not landed in Bhutan before, we bank hard to the right than the left, please do not be alarmed”. I was just like, “cool what ever”, wholly smoke, it felt like the pilot was attempting acrobatics in a jumbo. I looked out the window and the wing seamed to be touching the ground then the balanced changed to the other side, then the jumbo straightened out and landed. The expert pilot’s had to thread this jumbo through to massive mountains right in line with the airport, an impressive entrance I must say.

Once on the tarmac i was impressed with my first sight of this mysterious country. The airport is probably the most beautiful airport that i have ever seen in one of the most picturesque landscapes i have ever seen. I was later informed that the traditional style architecture that the airport was built in was law in Bhutan. Every building has to be built to look like traditional Bhutanese Architecture. This meant that every building looked similar, somehow this works and in forces that Bhutan are really trying to hold onto there traditions.

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Great airport

I easily managed my way through customs and met my guide, not a single hassle from anyone. This was a refreshing change to the chaos that was Kathmandu. My guide blessed me and we were on our way from Paro to Thimpu. The roads were in amazingly good condition and some of the coolest driving roads anywhere. They wound themselves up and around the huge mountains, the going was slow, i didn’t complain, it gave me more time to take in the incredible beauty. We stopped at the famous Iron Chain Bridge in the Paro Valley. The bridge is old, real old somewhere in the late 1300’s and is still in use today, I walked across it, it was something to see with all the intwined steel chains and the prayer flags draped over ever inch.

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The Iron Bridge in the Paro Vally.

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The Official Worlds Largest Book

After checking into my hotel and having some lunch my guide Pelma took me to visit the National Library, where i could see all the old scrolls and the Guinness Book of World Records recognised “World Largest Book”. We wondered around town and visited the Stupa in Thimphu and played a game of snooker with Pelma’s friends in this cool hidden away local snooker hall, I won!!! Anyway I am loving this amazing country, it is clean, tidy, organised and ridiculously beautiful.

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Breathtaking and peaceful

Thank You for stopping by Tattered Passport, if you have enjoyed this post please feel free to share with your family and friends. You can find Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and simply by clicking the “Follow” button at the bottom of the screen.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane

Tour Review: World Expeditions Everest Base Camp Circuit.

World Expeditions come with almost 30 years experience in the adventure travel industry and are self proclaimed to be recognised in responsible tourism initiatives, which I must admit did catch my eye. After many hours of research over the net as well as a couple of information nights I decided to go with World Expeditions.

There are many travel companies that operate in Nepal that offer very similar itineraries and experiences with largely varying prices. So I wondered why the large differences in costs? World Ex is not the cheapest, in fact I would say that they are one of the more expensive ones.

The World Ex. EBC. Circuit at $2,690.00 (18days) sounds a little higher than the Intrepid equivalent at $2,425.00. (20 days). Now I am not going to do a comparison as I have not trekked with Intrepid, however I have toured with Intrepid through Tibet. The World Ex trek is a fully catered trek, this means you get supplied, breakfast, lunch and dinner almost every night, the only nights that food is not included are those in Kathmandu. Keeping your energy levels up whilst trekking is vitally important to both your health and your ability to enjoy the trek. World Ex food, to put it simply, is astoundingly good. We never went hungry and the Chief suprised us every day. What he was able to prepare, sometimes with nothing other than a camp stove and cooking on a tarp in a frozen and windy valley was amazing. One night we actually had a full on Italian night, with pizza and spaghetti. I understand that this is not a traditional Nepalese cuisine, and for some that in it self would stop you choosing a certain tour. I am all for and normally do eat, local cuisine, however we found whilst trekking, eating food that you are used to back home is a great way to ensure that you stay healthy and keep the dreaded travellers belly at bay. This is not something that you welcome when the best toilet around is a hole in the ground.

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Breakie Alfresco

When we landed in Nepal we were met at the Kathmandu International airport by a World Ex representative and assisted through the maze of people looking to help carry your baggage or drive you to where ever you need to go. The mini bus/ van is what you would expect in Nepal and we had no issues with it. If you are an adventure traveller you would not be disappointed by the lack of air-con, the seats were fine and I felt safe as the driver made his way through the chaos that is Kathmandu streets. The driver even stopped for us to take a few photo’s of some monkeys chasing us along a wall.

Once we arrived at the Raddisson Hotel, where all World Ex tours leave from we were greeted by super friendly door staff and I could say no bad things about the 5 star hotel. The place is super clean and tidy, the staff go out of there way to help you, the rooms are very spacious and there is free WiFi through out the hotel. They say that you are only aloud 1 free WiFi ticket, that last 24hrs but we were never questioned when we asked for a 2nd WiFi ticket. Kathmandu is known for its rolling blackouts that happen completely randomly at any time anywhere. However Raddisson is one of the only places that have a generator large enough to power the entire building so you only ever loose power for a matter of seconds before it is back on again. This is specially good when the power cuts out and you are in the lift heading up to your room.

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What a view? From the roof pool at the Radisson

The World Ex staff are suburb, our Tour Manager Prasant was out of this world helpful and a super bloke. He was so knowledgeable about all aspects of the Himalayas and was always ready to answer any question we could through at him. He was also brilliant in diagnosing one of our trekkers and organising her a Medi Vac out of Gokyo Ri. Even after the local doctor had said that she is fine and not to worry. Prasant had watched the trekker detereiate over the course of the day and decided to get her a helicopter out. We later found that she was diagnosed with HACE, High Altitude Cebral Oedema, essentially Prasant saved her life. This knowledge is worth ever cent you pay plus many many more. If you are like us and this is your first foray into trekking, it is worth going with a highly recognised tour group that has many years of experience. It may actually save your life.

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Day Tour, We visit the Boudhanath Stupa

The Kathmandu day tour, guide was a character, it was obvious he new the city well and was very passionate about his city, however none of us could understand a single word he said. He would talk so fast and with so much energy the story was lost. The World Ex hotel representative who is based at the Raddison to support World Ex customers is very good at his job, he can sort out anything you want from organising a fair cab price into the city, or to the post office on the other side of the city, to hotel transfers. However his customer service could do a with bit of work. He comes across grumpy and unwilling to help, which is actually the opposite to what he is. He can help and is really good at it, as the face of World Ex at the Raddisson this probably needs some attention.

The pre-deperture and post return assistance I believe to be what your would expect. World Ex offer information nights in most capital cities and these nights are great ways to easily ask information about the tour and get a better understanding of what you will need to get and do to prepare. World Ex do hand out a what to bring list, which is very comprehensive. However you pretty much need to leave most of the gear in Kathmandu due to the weight restriction of the planes that fly to Lukla. This did mean that we spent way more on gear than we needed and what we could actually take on the trek. I believe the list is most likely a generic list that they send out to all trekkers, a suggestion would be have a gear list suited for each trek. Any trek that flies through Lukla, you are restricted to 10kg in your trekking bag and 5kg in your day pack. The 10kg already includes nearly 6kg of supplied gear, including your sleeping bag, thermal liner and down jacket. So you are basically left with 4kg for 18days. Not a problem but the gear list that World Ex

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The World Expeditions bag

suggest weighed in somewhere around 15kg in itself. They do supply a really cool World Ex trekking bag that the porters carry and you are aloud to keep. The Hotel do supply a room to store your gear that you leave behind, however it is just a room where everyone stuff from all treks is kept and is not always locked, which is a little concerning, we did not have anything go missing and I have not heard of anyones stuff go missing.

The trek staff are some of the nicest and polite, hard working people I have ever met. You could imagine that in years gone passed porters were mistreated, leaving them to sleep in caves on the side of mountain in freezing weather and paid very poorly. This is now no longer the case, I am not blind and do believe these circumstances still happen. World Ex pay there staff according to the regulations set out by the “Trekking Agents Association of Nepal and the Labour Union of Nepal. They supply staff with three meals a day, accommodation mostly tents, appropriate foot ware, water proof clothing, warm garments, gloves, socks and sunglasses. Porters also receive Life and Income Protection Insurance, they have access to the same first aid equipment that the travellers have. The first aid kit and the PAC Portable Altitude Chamber were impressive to see and to realise that they were carried everywhere. One night the team gave us a demonstration of the PAC and explained to us how it works and what happens once you enter it.

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Portable Altitude Chamber

I would happily suggest World Expeditions to anyone thinking of trekking Nepal. I had such a great time and I felt safe in the knowledge that I was properly looked after by the World Ex team whilst in the mountains. The pre and post trek service I believe was what you would expect from a tour company. They support local people and the communities they pass through.

I have not received any form of payment for this review, it is the opinion of myself. I understand that others may have varying experiences of such tours, which I would love to hear about, so please feel free to comment below about your experiences with World Ex, or any tour company in the Himalayas.

Thank You for stopping by Tattered Passport. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or simply by clicking on the “Follow” button at the bottom of the screen. If you have liked this post please feel free to share with your family and friends.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out.

Shane

The Emotional Roller Coaster of Saying Good Bye.

Saying good bye is never easy, after spending 22 days with amazing people in some of the most breathtaking locations I have ever seen you build a very close friendship. Then after it all everyone leaves and heads off. Today I felt a little alone, so I got myself a massage, wondered around Thamel and did a bit of the Admin side of my blog. Sorry this daily vlog is only a short one. Nothing really happened.

Travel opens your mind and soul for new and incredible experiences. You seek knowledge and look for any opportunity to meet new people. Once when I landed in Kathmandu from Paro, Bhutan I shared a cab with a Swiss backpacker, after chatting on the way into Thamel we decided to catch up for lunch. After lunch we wondered around Thamel and found our way to the “Garden Of Dreams” where we bumped into an Aussie backpacker, who invited us out for dinner and she introduced us to her Chilean friend who told us about a cool Shisha bar where we spent the night singing and chatting over a bunch of beers and Shisha. I still stay in touch with all of them and follow there adventures. This unique way of building friendships so rapidly and then parting ways just as quickly can be a emotional roller coaster but somehow builds the friendship even stronger.

Have you had experiences like these? Have you felt empty when your left alone in a random country after making great random friendships?

Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or simply by clicking on the Follow button on the bottom the screen. If you have liked this post please feel free to share with your friends and family.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out.

Shane

Lukla Airport Chaos, The Worlds Most Dangerous Airport. Daily Vlog: 22

Today we wake early full of anticipation, for today we leave the mountains and head back to Kathmandu. However as we found out yesterday many people had been stuck in Lukla for up to 7 days so the village was full of trekkers all wanting to get home so hopes were high.

I take a sneaky peek out of our window and I could see blue skies, however by the time that I walked down to the dinning room the clouds had rolled in and it was a thick as pea soup. It was not looking good, our tour manager Prasant was silently confident, he new this mountain better than anyone.

We got the call and we all rushed down to the airport caring everything we had. By the time we arrived it was obvious that the word had got out and the entire village full of trekkers were there all fighting to get on a plane. It was utter chaos, however what happened was something I would never of imagined would happen in such a peaceful and magical place. In amongst the chaos tempers rose to boiling point, voices were rising and heated words were exchanged. Right beside me a fight broke out between a couple of trekkers and the flight staff. It was a full on fight, with punches thrown, people getting knocked to the ground and the cops having to physically restrain the culprit.

Once we managed to get our way through bag checks and into the waiting room, we were able to relax. It was a mission to get through all that. Prasant came over and said “Now we wait”, and wait we did. Three hours in and we hear the call, “First Flight”. You could feel the energy lift in the room and we were all excited, we were actually going to get out and not be stuck here for days or even weeks. Watching the first plane land and take off was a strange feeling for me. One side I was well this trek is over and I was a little sad, then I was like well lucky we were not getting stuck here for weeks and at the same time I was feeling even more excited as I new I would soon be jumping on yet another plane and heading to Bhutan, it was a little bit of an emotional roller coaster. Then the actual roller coaster started, the flight down the mountain. It is a strange feeling in that plane, on the way up after take off all you do is climb, there is no levelling out at cruising altitude, then you land. Its even odder when you are returning to Kathmandu. You take off from Lukla and start to descend, almost your entire flight is downwards. You can feel it in your guts, really odd. Due to the clouds we were flying much lower and much closer to the mountains. This was both an incredible way to see the mountain, we got a real close up aerial view, however it did mean it was much, much more bumpy.

Once we landed in Kathmandu it was straight to the showers. We had not had a real shower for 18 days and were starting to be a little on the nose. So after a quick spruce up it was out to Kilroys for a last dinner and some celebrations, speeches, singing and later on some dancing.

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The crew Celebrating at Kilroys

Thank you for visiting my little blog. You can find Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Or you can follow by simple clicking on the follow button at the bottom of the page. If you have liked this post please feel free to Share with your friends and Family and comment below. Have you been to Nepal?

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out.

Shane

How To Find: The WA YouTube MeetUp.

I’ve been getting a little bit excited about the upcoming WA YouTube Meet-Up so on a lazy sunday I spent the day hanging out in Perth and filmed a little video. I had such a ball running around Perth, getting reacquainted with my home city. I have watched Perth grow from a sleepy little town to a thriving funky new age metropolis and I must admit, I am really liking where my city is heading.

A few of the local WA YouTubers decided to get together and organise a WA YouTube MeetUp to “actually” meet other YouTubes in Perth. YouTube is a great community full of interesting people from all walks of life, however in WA we seem so far away from anyone, well I guess when you live in the largest state in Australia you actually are far away from everything. As locals living in Perth or any one of our many regional towns WA is very isolated and I feel that this meet up is a great opportunity to get together, build networks and discuss ideas and projects. So if you are a WA YouTuber or in fact if you are a YouTuber from Australia or abroad please come to the WA YouTube MeetUp.

The MeetUp will be held at the Northbridge Piazza on the corner of James St and Lake St Northbridge on the Saturday the 18th of October from 12pm.

We all hope to see you there.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane

My BIG Secret Revealed. Seriously…

So I can finally tell you all my BIG secret. I am heading on another adventure, something so BIG and so exciting, something that is truly life changing. I am moving, I am moving somewhere incredible, I am moving somewhere very cold, somewhere a long way away from Perth Western Australia and I am going for 4 Months.

Where am I Going?

I am moving to Antarctica. Yes you actually did read that correctly. I am actually moving to Antarctica. I will be based at Casey Station working as an electrician. This is such an opportunity for myself and my skill set as an electrician. I will be learning so much not only about my trade but about myself.

As you all could imagine Antarctica is so remote and so isolated that I am not sure of how good the internet will be. I will be trying to keep you all posted on whats going on down there as much as I can. So stay tuned, Follow, Subscribe, Like and Share with your friends and family as Tattered Passport will be in Antarctica.

Thank You all for all your amazing support and I am so happy to share this amazing moment with you all. This community is growing into quite the little family and I love everyone of you.

I will be attempting to get my Daily Vlogs up to date before I head off for my training in Hobart, Tasmania on the 27th October, so you will be seeing a heap more action on both my YouTube Channel and my Website. So spread the word.

Thank You again.

Don’t forget you can find Tattered Passport on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and hit the Follow button on my website.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane

Moments of Trekking Solitude. Daily Vlog: 21

We make our way back to Lukla, the small village that our adventure started almost 3 weeks ago. Today is only a short trek, 2 and a bit hours from Ghat to Lukla, however it is all up hill. We start the day with a raffle, trekking style. We all donate any gear that we either no longer want, need or would like to donate to our crew. The gear gets laid out on a tarp and all the items have a playing card placed face up on them. Then all the crew members, Sherpa’s, Porters, Cook, and helpers get to pick a card from the deck and what ever item matches the card, they get to keep. As you could imagine not all the items that the crew get suit them personally, but this is fine, they can trade with the other crew members or sell the gear in Lukla and make some extra money. It is a great way to say an extra thanks to the crew that have helped us reach a huge goal and successfully return safe and sound.

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Sorry just had to take a pic of this tree

Todays trek is all up hill but it is only a short walk. We trek through some of the thickest clouds we have encountered on the trek so far, this worries us all as we have heard that no plane has landed in Lukla for over a week, we quickly realise that we to may get stuck in Lukla. The way that it works in Lukla is that if your scheduled flight is able to land and leave than it does, if it can not and you miss your flight, your are put the very back of the line and wait your turn. This can be days or even weeks. As you can imagine there is sweet FA to do in Lukla other than drink coffee at the local “Starbucks” or drink beer at one of the many pubs.

We slowly make our way up the mountain, the clouds quickly roll in, the air gets very damp and then it starts to rain, luckily only for a short while. We break the cloud level and we can see the gate that we passed through almost 3 weeks ago. It sits atop the last short climb. This gate was not only a gate to the Himalaya’s, for me it is a symbol of what I have just achieved a symbol of what our group have achieved. I know that I was a little emotional as I passed under the gate and I’m certain others would of felt the same.

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We make it!

18 days ago as we passed under that gate we had no idea what lay in front of us. I had no idea of the amazing friendships that I would build and the incredible people that I would meet. I had no idea of the breathtaking sites that I would see or those moments of trekking solitude that are some form of meditation that will change you forever. I am finding it hard to put into words what I learnt about myself on that mountain. I have been touched and I will never be the same.

Nepal I will never forget you.

 

Thank You all for finding my little blog. You can find Tattered Passport on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Please click the Follow button so you can stay up to date with my adventures.

Have you had similar experiences in Nepal?

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out