Monthly Archives: October 2010

GARMIN 500 GPS – does it work in the Himalayas?

Navigation in the Himalayas is not difficult, at least, not when following the ‘Everest Highway’ in peak trekking season. Just follow the yaks, the guides, the porters and the Germans and you’ll be fine. It’s not a road you’d want to divert from anyway. A step or two off the beaten track could leave you several hundred metres lower in a matter of seconds. Continue reading


Filed under Hiking, Himalayas


We’ve been doing our bit to help the march of the greatest game on earth – AFL or Aussie Rules football – across the planet. I can reliably report that it was football played at the highest level – 3880 metres in fact, with Mt Everest as a backdrop.

The Thyangboche Yaks are fearless, agile and incredibly fit, but they still have a way to go in developing basic skills in kicking and hand-balling, and their ground needs a bit of levelling. When the ball goes out of bounds on the western side of the field, the boundary umpire needs to scramble down through the bushes, clear cows out of the way and grab the ball before it winds up in the river.

Once supercoach Kevin Sheedy has finished setting up his new team in western Sydney, he could do worse than head for the hills of Nepal to give the Yaks a few pointers. A Nepali premiership-winning team may be some years off, but we can assure Sheeds he’ll have a good time.

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Filed under Hiking, Himalayas, Sport

NEPAL – in praise of Sherpas

If the buddhists are right and I get another life, I want to come back as a Sherpa. Not that I want to do their work; I just want their strength and endurance for my next hiking trip.

Sherpa porters are expected to be able to carry twice their body weight. I feel comfortable with about 20kg – sadly less than a quarter of my own bulk.

Sherpa Gopal is a head shorter than me, and half my weight. I’m carrying two litres of water, a rain jacket and a camera in my day pack. He’s carrying two folding tables, sandwiching six folding chairs. All are made of steel. Gopal tells me he’s forty years old. Continue reading


Filed under Hiking, Himalayas

HIMALAYAS, NEPAL – why a chopper is the best

Due to bad weather, flights to Lukla have been cancelled for the three days. We’re only going to Phaphlu, but there’s a such a backlog at Kathmandu Airport that we’re unlikely to get a plane there for another two days. ‘Two possibilities,’ says our guide Ang, ‘we could take a helicopter tomorrow, which will cost an extra $450 each. Or we could take a bus and walk to Phaphlu from there.’

Our group discusses this for a while, before someone asks, ‘Just how long is the bus ride?’

Ang considers this for a while. ‘Maybe eleven-twelve hours.’

‘And we can walk from there?’

‘We can walk, yes.’

‘How far?’

More thought, then, ‘Maybe four days walking.’

‘We’ll take the helicopter please.’

It turns out to be money very well spent. A forty minute flight, with views of the Himalayas that we’ll remember forever.

The writer was the guest of World Expeditions.


Filed under Hiking, Himalayas

KATHMANDU, NEPAL – burning bodies in public

Life in Kathmandu happens on the street. I expected that. I wasn’t quite prepared to witness a public cremation on my first day in town. The Hindu temple at Pashupati area is a favourite tourist attraction here. It’s not particularly beautiful as temples go, but tourists come here to see the monkeys scooting around, to photograph the painted holy hermits, and to see bodies burned. Continue reading


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CHANGI AIRPORT, Singapore – 3am

I don’t recommend being stuck in an airport for nine hours, particularly when those hours are from 12.30am to 9.30am. However, if you can’t avoid it (because for example, your plane from Sydney doesn’t quite neatly connect with your flight to Kathmandu), then Changi is a good airport to stay in. There are so many new and wonderful experiences available there. Continue reading


Filed under Budget travel, Singapore

HIMALAYAN EXPEDITION – what gear to take?

I leave for Nepal today. The scenery should be spectacular, the physical challenge should be good for me (“that which doesn’t kill me makes me strong”), the cultural exchange with the Sherpas and buddhist monks should be fascinating. But I may need some stuff to play with. Continue reading

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Filed under Hiking, Himalayas