Riding In Hagglunds: Antarctica.

I wake early to watch the sunrise over Wilkins Runway. Its 4:30am and around -10c, However it is all worth it. As I watch that sun peak over the horizon, reflecting off millions of ice crystals, I take a moment. A moment to really see where I am, How lucky I am to be here, to be here in Antarctica.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica.

Antarctic Sunrise: Wilkins Runway.

Wilkins Runway is built on approx. 500m of solid Glacial Ice which moves up to 15 meters a year and is the gate way to Australia’s Antarctic Programs Casey Station.

Today we return to Casey after spending a week conducting maintenance at the remote airfield.  The return trip is only 90km but can take up to 4hrs. It is a long, rough ride in one of the coolest vehicles in the World, a Hagglund. 1hr into the trip we reach the edge of the Antarctic Circle.

The very unique sign creates an incredible photo opportunity and the back drop, well that just takes your breath away. Here you get a real sense of how remote you really are, how vast the frozen continent is.

Tattered Passport: Antarctica

One incredible Sign

Tattered Passport: Antarctica

5 Days later at the Antarctic circle.

Back in the Haggs, we start the descent off the plateau, making our way back to Casey. We pass over some blue ice, taking care not to slip or slide on the super slippery blue is Joe expertly navigates the hazard.

You never know what you will see up here, this time we spot an old 44 gallon drum. The drum is an old Way Point that has surfaced, who knows where it has come from.

Descending further down the plateau you feel the temperture rise, as it gets warmer we notice snow and ice melts. Even in this All Terrain Vehicle these need to be negotiated carefully.

We cross a few of these melt streams and begin to hear radio chatter, we are close to home now. We make our wat through Penguin Pass and get our first view of the aptly named “Red Shed” where all the Caseyites live. We “Call In” to Casey Comms and are welcomed back by Tina the Comms Operator.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Survival Training: Antarctica.

The time has come, I am both excited and a little nervous about the next two days. Every expeditioner needs to complete and show their competence in all aspects of survival training. This includes everything from organising your expedition paper work through to plotting your course using maps and compasses.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

Survival Training: Casey Station

As our training day approaches we are informed by the Meteorology team that the weather is turning bad and a blizzard is possible. We carry on planning our training day and decide as a group to go a head. I must admit I am a little nervous about spending 24hrs out in this weather, but at the same time I am well aware how much of a unique experience this will be. Everyone down there needs to complete survival training, but so far everyone has had perfect weather.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

Survival Training, Antarctica.

Tattered Passport: Antarctica

Survival Training, Antarctica: Feeling The Chill

We have completed all our paper work, collected all our gear and we are ready to head out. We make our very first call in to Casey Communications, explain our intentions and off we head towards Shirley Island. We need to follow the approved walking route which winds its way through a rocky valley. We have a few marked GPS Way points on our maps, which we use to navigate ourselves through this area. I soon realised that this was going to be a challenge. We constantly refer to our maps and compasses, but it so windy. Every time I remove my map from my jacket it almost blows away.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica

Radioing In

We reach the sea ice and call Casey Communications. To walk on ice we need know how thick it is and the only way to do that is to drill the ice. So we grab our Sea Ice Drill and set it all up. We learn a bit about sea ice, how to tell if it is good ice, how thick it is and how saturated it is. As we finish drilling we are visited by group inquisitive Adelie Penguins. It was incredible, they came right up to us and spent a good 10 minutes just chilling and checking us out, until they get bored and return to their colony.

Tattered Passport, Antarctica.

Adelie Penguins, Shirley Island, Antarctica

As we reach Shirley Island we have another training drill. We set up a survival shelter called a Mega Bivvy. A bivvy is a bag that you can use in a survival situation. They are way to escape from the wind, they are super light and easy to set up even in strong winds. We all jump in the Mega Bivvy and call in to Casey Communications. We watch and listen to the weather getting worse and decide its time to head to our next location, The Wharf. Here we will learn how to use the camp stoves and how to set up our personal bivvy bags and where we’ll be spending the night.

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

Inside Tibet: Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple.

Inside Tibet: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple.

Daily Vlog: 37

Today was filled with mixed emotions, we start the day off with a visit to the Potala Palace the home of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in the 1959 Tibetan uprising. This place has held my imagination for years. Construction of the palace was started by the 5th Dalai Lama in 1645 after Konchog Chophel one of his spiritual advisers pointed out that the site was ideal location for government as it was situated between Drepung and Sera monasteries and the old walled city of Lhasa. They believe that it may lay on the site of an earlier fortress, called either the White or Red Palace built in 637 by Songtsan Gampo.

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Posing at the Palace

As we approached this massive palace, I was in awe of its grand stature, it looked over Lhasa proudly, almost standing guard over the old city. I felt blessed that i would soon be able to see inside this very important building in Tibetan history. However I was soon brought crashing back down to earth as we were directed through bag check and after bag check, we had to walk along fenced pathways watched over by the Chinese military. As we approached the gate and yet another bag check, one of our tour members was not allowed in because she was wearing a dress. According to our guide, as long as you cove your knees you are normally allowed in. So our new friend had to purchase a pair of pants from a street seller, which the guards directed her towards. My guess is the street seller was a friend of the guards and we were just a way to get some cash off the tourists?

Tattered Passport Tibet

The Potala Palace main entrance

Once we were all through the gates we now only had 20 minutes to make it up to the gate or we would not be allowed inside. Even then we only had 1 hour inside the Potala Palace, it is a very large building so you could not see much, you where constantly rushed through each room. You could not take photo’s inside the building either and everywhere you looked you were getting watched by cameras. I felt rush of sadness flow over me, there were only a handful of monks left, we had heard that even some of them where fake monks from the Chinese Military sent there to keep an eye over the Tibetan monks. The Chinese invasion of Tibet was very obvious here, they controlled every aspect of this once grand stature of Tibetan culture. It must be so hard for the Tibetan people.

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The epic view from the Potala Palace

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Potala Palace prayer flags

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Skulls and Potala Prayer Wheels

After leaving the Potala Palace I was not in a happy, joyful mood and I could see the same faces through out my tour group. So we decided to jump on some Rickshaws for a little fun and find some lunch. We wandered into the fast food outlet and where met by these beautiful smiling faces. They were all a little shocked to see us in there and we all had a bit of fun. But I don’t thing our bellies are quite used to the local food yet and we were all a little worried how we would handle it.

That after noon we wandered back down to the Jokhang Temple to watch the famous Debating Monks. This was a site to see, but it now looks like it is a bit of a tourist attraction, the temple was packed with Chinese tourist all very intrigued with us more than the Debating Monks. One even snuck up behind me and touched my dreads, she was very shocked when I turned around, her face was priceless.

Tattered Passport Tibet

Making friends at the Palace

http://youtu.be/vlxx_UD5ubY

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

One Hectic Day. Daily Vlog: 32

I jump in a cab and head off to Durbar Square nice and early only to find out that I am completely in the wrong spot and need to walk back to where I had just come from. I had been in contact with a few peeps from our Mt Everest Base Camp trek, CJ and Simone and were going to have some breakfast with them before they head off on there own adventures. After getting completely lost for hours, I finally found them, had a quick breakie and they hit the road and I made the looooong walk to the post office.

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Durbar Square Pigeons

I had planned on sending a bunch of my left over trekking gear that I no longer needed and some souvenirs back to oz, save me from carrying them around Bhutan and Tibet. Be warned if you are going to use the post office in Kathmandu, put an entire day aside for it. The post office is utter chaos, no organisation what so ever, and completely dodgy. They pile up stuff, throw stuff around, there is no instructions on what you have to do. I just had to wing it, push my way through the locals and hope for the best. I was actually surprised when I get word that the packages made their way home. The post officer checks your packages very thoroughly, opening up everything even a Buddha statue I had bought in Bhutan. He then signs some document and you are left in the lurch again. So I wander over to this old lady who wraps your package up in a white cloth, It gets stitched up, very slowly, this lovely lady kept on asking to give her some pot, really. Then you pay her, then walk over to another guy who goes over the stitching and puts melted wax seal stamps along the stitching, you pay him. Then you find out that you have to go next door and pay for the postage and in cash only. You battle with the crazy crowd all pushing in, I learnt very quickly to just push through and get to the front. So after that I was ready to head back into Thamel, I was there for 4hrs all up.

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Durbar Palace

 

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Prayer Flags at the Monkey Temple

That afternoon I caught back up with Luc and made our way over to explore Durbar Square and the Palace. You get an incredible view over Kathmandu from the 9th floor of this UNESCO Heritage listed building. Back in the square, a large group of people had congregated, so we wanted to check it out. Turns out they were filming a dodgy fight scene for a local Nepalese movie. It was pretty cool to watch, but ridiculous as well. We then jump in one of the dodgiest cabs I have ever been in and drove up the dustiest street in Kathmandu and visited the Monkey Temple. I was pretty happy when we arrived there, well more surprised I guess. The temple is beautiful and as the name suggests, there are monkeys everywhere, they are cheeky little things as well. We watched a few baby monkeys playing around in the trees and watched as a “Gang” of cheeky monkeys steel some of the thousands of prayer flags and drag the bundle to there hide out. It was really interesting to watch them, they were just like little kids.

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Monkey Temple

We then found the best spot for the sunset at the Nirvana Cafe, ordered a couple of coffee’s and watched as the sunset over the temple and on “One Hectic Day”

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Young Monk

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One Life, One Search,

Peace Out.

Shane.

Butter Tea with Chanting Monks.

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Fortress to protect from Tibitan Invasion

Paro has one of the most amazing ruins of an ancient well 1600’s Fortress the Drukgyel Dzong. I spend a few hours wandering around in complete awe of this incredible structure and find my myself day dreaming when this fortress was occupied and the stories it could tell. The Dzong, Bhutanese for fortress was built to

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To Protect from Tibet

protect Bhutan from the Tibetan Invasion. Exploring old ruins would be one of my favourite pass times, I seem to loose myself in the history of the place. It is great to see that the Bhutanese government is actively maintaining the ruins. They are re-building the roof in the entrance, but they are keeping the site as “Untouched” as they can, it is a refreshing way of preserving a

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Bhutanese Game

very important site in Bhutanese history. We return to Paro town for a quick Tea Break and a bit of shopping, I also watch our new driver play a local game, sorry I don’t know the name of the game. It was really interesting to watch. They flick a blue “puck” on a table and hit black and white “discs” and hopefully get them in the holes, kind of like pool or snooker.

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The breathtaking ruins of Drukgyel Dzong

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Window into the past

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Kyichu Lhakhang Temple

We drive to a 7th century temple that is still operational by the name of Kyichu Lhakhang. As we walked in the first thing that I sore was this really old lady walking around the temple spinning the prayer wheels and chanting softly. She looked over to me and smiled, a smile of compassion a beautiful wise old smile and I instantly new this was going to be a beautiful place. I walked around the temple slowly spinning the prayer wheels and getting a real feeling of peace. Inside the temple court yard there is this very interesting belief. There is a stupa and they believe that it is sinking, and that this is a sign that the future Buddha is rising.

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The Sinking Stupa and the Rising Buddha.

After Tea I had one of the most amazing experiences. We walked up the side of a cliff to the Dzongdrakha temple which translates into “Temple on a Cliff” original I know. The walk up to the temple was incredible. We walked passed a new house getting built, it was interesting to see new and old building techniques working together to build the house. I watched as one man was using a manual plainer and the other a electric one. We then

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Phallis to protect from evil demons

pass through the yard of a house perched right on the edge of the cliff, they were more then happy for us to wander through their yard. It was so cool to see how they live, they had a pile of wood stacked up and you could see all the food growing around the yard.Then Pelma pointed out to me a Phalis “Carved Penis” hanging from the roof. This is believed to protect the house from demons. As you may remember in Punakha the Devine Madman subdued a demon with his penis. As we climbed higher up the cliff we started to hear some chanting, it was beautiful and was flowing over the valley. What happened next was out of this world.

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House on a cliff

As we reached the temple we were invited inside the monastery by the monks. They were still chanting, the sound was unbelievable. My guide and I were the only two in there with a room full of monks all chanting. You could feel their devotion, they were in this almost meditative state, it was beautiful and powerful. They invited me to sit amongst them and to eat with them. They gave me their own rice and a cup of butter tea. I felt so blessed to have shared that moment with those monks, it was so special for me. I still get goose bumps when I think about it. These monks were so peaceful and had so much compassion for some one that they have never met, someone from such a different world to theirs. They invited me into their place and shared with me their food and tea, that little gesture has had a profound effect on me and the way that I see and interact with the world. These peaceful monks have changed my life. As we left the monastery I felt like I could just float to the bottom of the mountain, the sound of the chanting almost guided me, it was just…. I don’t even know how to describe it.

Thank you for stopping by Tattered Passport and sharing this special moment with me. I hope you have enjoyed this post and the YouTube Vlog. If you have please Like and Share and comment below, I would love to hear from you. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and simply by clicking the “Follow” button at the bottom of the screen.

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out,

Shane.

What is M&S? Daily Vlog: 15

Daily Vlog: 14

Cho-La to Labouche.

We wake up after a freezing night in our “Wilderness Camp” to one of the most picturesque views I have ever seen. The sky was perfectly clear, the sun was out, it was still cold but the sun was out and standing tall over our camp were breathtaking snow camp mountains that just made you go “WOW”. The morning was so perfect that we all decided to have breakfast Al-Fresco, which was a welcome change.

mykombiandi

Having breakfast outdoors today.

Today was only a short day, and we needed it after the massive day yesterday. We only walked for just over 3 hours and had arrived at our Tea House by lunch time. This enabled us to re-group, re-energise and re-focus on our next few even bigger days, tomorrow we reach Base Camp! After lunch the group settled into our rooms for the night and then congregated in the pretty cool little dinning room. We played our favourite game of “M&S”, (masters and sluts) I realise that sounds horrible but it is pretty much a card game called “Goodies and Baddies”. We now had a few extra members of the group that would stay with us for a few days and we where all quickly getting to know them. The new members were from a Canadian group who had been a part of raising money for a school and a hospital in the Nepalese Himalaya. They were soon taught the rules of M&S and they all loved the game.

Tomorrow we reach Mount Everest Base Camp, it will be a massive day, 8 hours all up and some pretty tough terrain. We are all so excited about tomorrow, hopefully we can actually get some sleep tonight. We heard from Mel today, she had made it safely to Kathmandu and after a few scares and having to deal with a Nepalese hospital Mel was diagnosed with HACE, High Altitude Cerebral Edema. So we all are very grateful to our super talented, super awesome trek leader Prasant, for saving our friends life. If any of you are thinking of trekking in Nepal or are interested in an adventure holiday I would seriously consider World Expeditions.

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Have you traveled with World Expeditions? What were your experiences?

One Life, One Search,

Peace Out.

Shane

The BIG #100happydays catch up!

G’day everyone. I know I have not been keeping up to date with my #100happydays challenge, as you are all aware I have been trekking through the Nepal for the last 3 weeks. However I have been taking plenty photo’s and heaps of video. Here are some pics of what has made me happy over the last few weeks. I must say, it is pretty easy to be happy in the Himalaya’s, they are so beautiful.

The Himalaya’s are just breathtaking, every bend brings new and exciting adventures and unique beauty. I just love Nepal.

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See you all soon.

One Life, One Search.