You’d be forgiven for thinking that my trip to Nepal would be done on the cheap, after all I had economised when in Australia and Hawaii by not eating out, not hiring a car, staying in a hostel etc. That economising was party due to the fact that my budget was getting blown booking a trek, with what I considered the best company that organises treks to Everest Base Camp.
Kiwi Russell Brice runs Himalayan Experience, his company runs expeditions to the summit of Everest amongst other mountain summits also, so this trek isn’t a biggy for him. I was first made aware of Russell when watching the TV docu-reality show, Everest - Beyond the Limit. Take a look on YouTube, all the series are available and they’re a compelling watch.
Anyway, whilst watching the programs I was impressed with how Russell didn’t take any chances with peoples lives. If you was 300 metres from the summit of Everest, and he thought, for whatever reason, you’d die on the descent, he would call you back. That’s a big call especially when you consider that these people pay around $60k to summit Everest.
I could have trekked alone, I could have paid a quarter of what I’ve paid Russell, but I didn’t because I wanted to thoroughly savour and enjoy the experience, so I’d let someone else do all the organising for once. Even with all the preparations Russell makes, my bag of trekking gear still got nicked from the airport by someone with an identical kit bag, I got it back, but if I’d not had his support it would have been a whole lot harder, so I’m happy to be part of his expedition. And I believe if there is a disaster; earthquake, avalanche whatever, that I stand a better chance of getting out alive with Himalayan Experience, hence making the financial sacrifice and booking with them.
If you think I’m typing this blog on my second day in Kathmandu in some dingy dirty hostel, think again! Russell has his guests ‘shacked-up’ in the best hotel in Kathmandu, the 5 star Hyatt Regency, a rather fab place!
I’m working class, I’m a grafter, I don’t really enjoy people kowtowing to me. On first checking-in, I was wishing I was in a more understated hotel, where I could be inconspicuous. I also thought that it’s pretty disgusting that Nepal is still recovering from the massive earthquake two years ago, and I’m in this plush oasis in the midst of their suffering. But I realised one thing when I took a walk to the shops. One of the waiters was walking merrily up the drive, in his funky civvies, and I thought there an then, he wouldn’t have been afforded the opportunities that he has if the hotel wasn’t there. Building this five star oasis has created hundreds of jobs, directly and indirectly. Therefore it is a good thing for Kathmandu and it is a good thing that these people are earning money. I hope they are paid a fair wage, but have now got accustomed to tipping to help them out.
I’ve some US dollars leftover from my Hawaii trip, and this currency is accepted in Kathmandu, I’m not a big tipper, just one dollar at a time, but it’s something! One dollar is around 100 of the Nepalese Rupee. You’d be paying around 1600 rupees for a main meal dish in the Hyatt. So that gives some idea of what 100 NR is worth to them.
For our trek I’ll need to get some Nepalese Rupee currency, for any extras I want to buy. The trek cost includes everything, except when in the Hyatt it doesn’t include lunch and dinner. But meals, drinks, snacks, transport for the whole 21 days (except your air fare) is included in the $4500 fee. I’ve spent an additional $450 on Global Mountain Rescue, if there is an incident I have access to the means of extraction with this insurance.
So ensconced in the luxury of the Hyatt from Saturday night the 24th March, I’ve just been chilling, in the gym, drinking tea! And generally doing sod all. And I’m really enjoying it, you wouldn’t believe you are in Kathmandu, the hotel complex is vast for a city hotel, the interior design and the grounds are tastefully and simpathetically landscaped in accordance with the Nepali culture and tradition.
Last night Sunday the 25th, all members of our trek met up, there’s around twenty of us. Remembering all the names is difficult, but I’ll get there. I’m not good in crowds, so am slighty out of my comfort zone, but will work on being less gobby and more socialable……not sure that’s gonna work actually, but anyway I’ll try!
Russell also met with us, and ran through the next two days activities, making sure we understood what was going on and when, which bags we need to have what in, plus answering any questions we had. When you book with him, it is very well organised; making sure you fill in all his forms, making sure you know what to do on arrival at Kathmandu airport, such as how to get your visa etc, and making sure you have your equipment, which is detailed on a list that he provides.
It’s now Monday morning on the 26th March, Some of us are meeting at 10am, to go on a tourist run around Kathmandu in a bus Russell has organised. It’s now 9am, so I best get moving!
Catch you soon!