I have not written in a while mainly because life got in the way…
New jobs (2 to be exact), a trip home, a trip to Ireland, friends got married and one visitor from home. Its been a crazy half a year. I am finally settled into my role at work and slowly gaining my me time back.
I worked hard at developing some great habits of self care and being present (mindfulness). I have let them all go the last couple of months. I am slowly building it all back up. Over the next few months I really want to put my time back into my exercise and mindfulness. A lot of my energy goes into work and will continue to but I need to make sure I take that step back so I do perform well at my day job.
Do you ever feel sometimes life takes a hold of you ?
Goals for September:
- Keep writing, even if no one is reading it it really helps me unwind after a long day
- Exercise more often, I have already signed up for a PT session once a week
- Get back out more in the outdoors and take the camera
- No phone before bed, try reading instead
- Get into work earlier, usually can get a bit more done if I am in earlier
- To not stress the small stuff and just work on focus
Earlier this year I decided to move on from a company I loved to work for. The ladies on my team were a extended part of my Australian family. I felt like I had exhausted my role and it was time to leave. It was a scary and tough decision to make. Over the last two months I have really learnt a lot about myself and how brutal the working world can be.
I took a job in a smaller company as I wanted to experience a smaller working environment. I did feel confident and took charge of my role straight away which was really reassuring. What I was not prepared for was the office politics in this business. The stories I was hearing were unbelievable and I don’t know if everything was true as I know there are always two sides to every story. It was clear to me though the management in my department was just non existent. You felt completely unsupported in a very messy business and just more and more mess was always developing.
I started to watch the clock on Sunday and count down the hours until I had to go to bed and then the hours until I had to get up. I stopped exercising, getting out of bed was the hardest thing to do and my mediation just went out the window. I didn’t realize how lucky I had been in my old company for 3 years. I never ever had a awful dread in the pit of my stomach every night before bed, but I did now. I did have a lot of tears but MK gave me some tough love saying if I am that miserable you have to sort it out….so I did.
The week before we went home for our 3 week holiday I updated my CV, contacted every recruiter in my area of work I knew and started to apply for jobs online. This week was crazy I had two job interviews during the week then I had 3 rounds with one company the morning I left to go home. I literally got back from my morning of interviews came home got changed gave MK a kiss and grabbed my suit case and was straight to the airport, it was such a blur. I was feeling better though cos I was working on changing my future. I landed in Doha to a email saying I had got the job I wanted. I could not be happier to start my holiday knowing I was not going back to such a toxic office.
Lessons I learnt from the past few months:
- Do research (lots of it) on the company you are going to interview for
- Make sure the person leading the interview will be the manager you report into
- Don’t feel pressure from recruiters and use ones you know and trust
- Be confident in what you know – I realized I know more then what I thought
- Believe in yourself and take control of your future
- Personally I am more suited to Global structures
The day was finally here. We were up early at 5AM. I had actually been awake since 3AM with nerves about our adventure ahead and the flight . The flight to Lukla ( the start of the hike to Base Camp Everest) takes off from Kathmandu and in a short 20 minuets you are approaching the worlds most dangerous runway. Due to the length of the runway and height it is rated as one of the most difficult landings and has caused a few crashes over the years. The weather needs to be crystal clear at both ends of the journey for the small 14 people plane to take off. We were told the earlier the flight the better the chance you have of taking off that day. With all the information running through my head we grabbed our duffel bags and met Raju in the lobby. Our driver picked us up and drove us through the creepily quiet streets to the airport. This side of Kathmandu airport was very different to were we flew in. There were monkey’s all over the terminal. It was chaotic trying to get through security which was pretty relaxed compared to security at home. Each flight company had a stand with a flip sign of what destination they were currently checking in. We checked in our bags and stepped over some weighing scales to go through to the boarding area. The security machine for bags was not working so we walked straight through and grabbed a seat. Our hotel had packed us a to go breakfast which I didn’t really touch as I was full of nerves. The hours slowly went by and they started to push all the Lukla flights back. As we were on the first flight we had first dibs if any would leave that morning. On the plus side the airport had great WiFi, so I got to speak to my family and friends which was great. Our tour guides smile never faded. Then at 2PM they made the call that no flights would be leaving due to the clouds covering the runway. Raju grabbed our bags and before we knew it we were hustled into a taxi and on route back to the hotel. The craziest bit was our Sherpa had flown out on a late flight the day before and was up there waiting for us.
Back in the hotel we laid on the bed a bit heart broken and extremely disappointed our adventure was on hold. Raju said he would go back to the airport tomorrow and try get us on a early flight. That night we had dinner and discussed how crap it felt about us not being able to fly and how hopefully the day after tomorrow we would get to go. We also reached out to friends who had already done this trip and they had to wait a few days to before they got a helicopter up to Lukla. They gave us some great advice and kept our spirits up. After a few pep talks we headed to the Irish pub in Kathmandu for a few pints.
The next morning we got back into the same hiking gear and laid on the bed watching movies waiting for Raju to call. He had been at the airport to try get us on a flight that day but was unsuccessful. He had us on a flight for the next late on in the morning so our chances again would be slim. MK and I spent the day watching movies and napping we were both quiet just thinking about what a long two days it was and after all this hard work would we make it to Everest? After a day of day dreaming and napping we dragged ourselves out for dinner before having another early night.
Before we knew it we were back at the airport in the same set of clothes with the same people from two days prior. We were on a later flight that morning. While we waited Raju offered us a option of going in a car and hiking up to Lukla. A group was leaving in 20 minuets and we could jump in with them. My gut instinct was no…so I did a quick bit of research about the journey and it sounded horrible. It was around 14 hours cramped off roading in a jeep then a 3 extra days of hiking 20KM a day. MK was ready to jump in the jeep and begin the journey. I felt lots of pressure to say yes and go but I knew fitness wise I would not be able to complete the extra bit of trekking. I did have a moment and a cry. MK realized maybe this was not the route to go. Sitting in the terminal we noticed a long line of people outside a helicopter stand. Raju explained they had booked to go on a helicopter which would cost us $500 USD each. Being on our third day stuck in the airport we asked Raju if he could get us on a helicopter. He explained that none had actually left in 3 days either and they were being very careful as one had crashed only last week. The rest of the day was spent in silence at the airport just waiting. We saw some people leave from the helicopter line and heard 2 helicopters would fly. Next thing we know Raju said when the helicopters return he had got us on one, but the catch was it would just be MK and I and Raju would follow up after. Again my gut instinct was not good but I did want to go and get up there. We agreed to go on the next helicopter and Raju took us through to the office to pay. The card machine would not work, I was thinking is this a sign we should not be getting on the helicopter? After 4 attempts they got the card machine to work and we sat back in the terminal. We sat down and the electric cut in the airport. I must have looked terrified. MK asked me if I was okay and all I could say was I was trying to find one positive sign we should be getting on this helicopter. Another 45 mins went past and Raju came up to let us know the first lot of helicopters could not reach the airport and had dropped off the passenger in a rural village half way to Lukla. They did not want to return the tourist as they did not want to refund anyone any money. Once the helicopters had returned they would not be flying again and we would go on them first thing tomorrow. Honestly I was so happy we were not getting on the helicopter. We met a couple who also had been at the airport for 3 days and had booked to be on the helicopter with us tomorrow. It was great to talk to them and the many others we met in the airport. It just made us realize we were not alone and everyone in this terminal had come so far and trained so hard for this experience and were feeling exactly like we were. Back at the hotel I did bring up to MK maybe we need a plan B because we couldn’t just wait in the airport and not enjoy our trip. I brought up a hike called Annapurna Base Camp as alternate trek. MK was not in the mind frame yet to really plan a alternative trek so I left it.
We had discussed if we did not fly out today we would move on. Off we went back to the airport in our terminal outfits for the past 4 days. We said goodbye to the hotel for the 4th morning hoping we would not be going back for a few weeks. At the airport we checked in and got weighed with our bags for the helicopter. I had all the stuff from yesterday whirling around my head and I was nervous. I did not feel safe and I did not want to get on the helicopter. I sat quietly with my headphones in. The morning passed and we were still waiting. I was stressed at the thought of the helicopter dropping us off and leaving us stranded. I was phoned my mum letting her know how stressed I was feeling. MK and I had been sat in a airport for 4 days stressed, confused and disappointed. As I was letting my mum know what was happening MK walked up and said they cancelled the helicopter flights for the day and he had told Raju we would go to Annapurna base camp. That was that, our Everest dream was put on hold. Completely heart broken we stood in line as Raju talked to the airline agents to try get us on a flight to Phokara. The flight was a blur. It was a small plane and we were all sat separately. The captain came running through the plane swung open the door to the cockpit turned on the engine and we were off. The flight was 20 minuets of flying through pure cloud until we reached Phokara, one hard right around the mountains and we were back on the ground.
We had a very lazy day. We just chilled out watched some movies in the hotel room. Late morning we ventured out to Thamel for a coffee and some postcards to send home. In just two days we would be starting our hike so we were just trying to relax.
In the evening we met Raju for dinner. Raju led us through Thamel to a restaurant. We were served local Nepalese food and watched a traditional dance show. It was great to get to know our guide Raju. We discussed the hike and he answered any questions we had. Raju has been a guide for 10 years so his knowledge on hiking in the mountains was endless.
Today we had a day tour around Kathmandu. We met our guide at the hotel and then she lead us to our driver. Our first stop of the day was The Monkey Temple. The temple was the oldest temple in Kathmandu. It was actually built before Kathmandu existed. As you can imagine there were monkeys everywhere. We walked up to the top where our guide explained the concept behind the Buddhist Temples. She also told us in the earthquake the original temple was the only bit which survived and everything else had to be re built. This temple gave us a great birds eye view of Kathamandu. Our next stop was to visit a real living goddess called a Kumari.
The Kumari is selected at birth and she lives in a building on the second floor as she is not allowed to touch the ground. People come from all over to see her. A few times a day she will come to the window to give people blessings. Unfortunately when we showed up she was having a nap…she is only 3 years old after all. We did see a photo of her. They are a goddess until they get their first period then they return to the local village and a new Kumari would be selected. Just around the corner from the Kumari was the Royal Palace. There is no longer a royal family in Nepal but the palace is still there and is currently being rebuilt after the earth quake. There was a Hindu festival going through the area we were in. It was a long line of women all dressed in orange and chanting whilst carrying small vase on their head. They were walking on the pavement in bare feet whilst passers by would throw water on there feet to keep them from burning from the red hot pavement. We followed the parade back to our car and ventured on for our last Buddhist Temple of the day.
Before we had lunch we walked around Boudhanath Stupa. The Temple was surrounded by shops. The first shop we visited sold medicine bowls. The owner of the shop gave us a demonstration on how they work. I sat on a chair and he placed the bowl on my head up side down and began to hit the bowl. The vibrations from the bowl worked there way down through my body giving me a relaxing feeling. He then moved the bowl to my knee and did the same thing the vibrations felt amazing. MK had his turn and the man put the bowl on his chest and back. The next shop we went into sold paintings of the circle of life. Each painting was so detailed and you had to be trained to a certain level to be able to paint the circle of life. Monks would draw them in the sand and it could take weeks to create and at the end of the process they would just destroy it. The detail of the pictures was incredible. The circle of life is about life always changing and how nothing in life remains the same. After checking out the gallery we headed to lunch. At lunch our guide chatted to us about our lives in Australia and she told us about her two children. She then asked us if we would like to visit the Hindu temple and see them do the cremation of the bodies. I immediately was not keen on the idea but MK said we should go as this is why we were here to experience new cultures.
The last stop of the day was to visit a Hindu Temple. You can not go inside the temple unless you are Hindu. We had a walk around the grounds of the temple then went around to the back. At the back of the temple is where they cremate bodies and bath them in the river which leads to the Ganges river. It was extremely emotional to watch families say good bye to there loved ones. I did notice other tourists taking photos which I did find very strange. For me it was a moment to take in for yourself and not through a lens. We were watching someones funeral and watching people at their saddest moment. The guide took us back to the hotel for us to enjoy our last night before flying up to Lukla (the start of the Everest Base Camp Trek).
This night we went out for a big carb dinner and then came back to the room to pack our duffel bags. Our day packs had to be 5KG and our duffel bags had to be 15KG and no heavier. It was pretty hard to fit all our essentials in and keep it under 15KG. There was a weighing scale in the lobby of our hotel, we did a few trips to the lobby weighing the bags. We had to get up at 4AM. I was pretty nervous about the flight to Lukla and it took me a while to get to sleep my brain just wouldn’t shut off. Our big adventure was about to begin.
The time had final come for us to leave Sydney for and start our trip around Nepal.
The first leg of our flight was 14 hours long to Dubai. We only had a two hour gap between flights. After a bit of a rush to the correct terminal for our flight to Kathmandu we were hit with a delay for two hours. This two hours soon stretched into another two and ended up being a 10 hour delay in Dubai. Finally we got a call over the speaker that the Kathmandu flight was boarding. I was just so happy to be finally boarding the plane I never even thought ‘Why were we delayed for so long?’. The flight was smooth and empty, we stretched out to get some rest. The pilot let us know due to the delays in Kathmandu airport we could not land so we would have to circle. I was to tired to care about us circling. Looking out the window at the mountains it was just a relief to be so close to finally being in Nepal. All of a sudden a huge plane came from under us and up the left hand side of the plane. I have never seen two planes so close to each other in the air, it scared me to death. All of a sudden I was wide awake and just wanted to land. My wish was granted only a few minuets after our close encounter with a China Eastern plane we were landing. The plane came to a halt, we had finally touched down in Nepal. When we were exiting the plane two men got down on there knees and kissed the ground. It was at this point MK let me know the reason for our delay was due to a plane crashing off the end of the run way that morning…Welcome to Nepal!
30 hours later we were slowly making our way through Nepal immigration. Immigration is slow and painful so just remain calm. It will be a long process. There is a line for the paper forms, then the electronic form and one for you to pay. After all that is complete you line up for the immigration desk. We were unlucky our immigration officer finished his shift. We had to stand and wait for the next one to come on duty. Once we were in the country we went through security again and collected our bags. As we exited the airport we were met with a crowd of people yelling names and holding signs. I spotted our name and waved. Our guide Raju came running up to us with a smile on his face welcoming us to Nepal. It was such a relief to see him as we thought with us being so late he might have given up on us. We got into a car and were given welcome flowers around our neck. Driving into Kathmandu at night was chaos, cars, trucks, people and motorbikes going in every direction. Exhausted from our travel it was hard to take it all in. We arrived at our hotel Kamuri Boutique Hotel in Thamel (tourist area). We arranged a time with Raju for the next day and we checked in. The hotel was lovely boutique hotel. Both of us were so happy to be safely in Nepal and at our hotel. We ordered some food and beer to the room. The night consisted of drinking our beers eating some great food and passing out.
The hotel included breakfast, we made our way down to the dinning room. Breakfast was a continental style with all the favorites; tea, coffee, cereal toast and eggs. Once we had food in our belly’s we went for a wonder around Thamel, which is a bit harder then you may think. The city is still recovering from the earthquake 5 years ago. The roads are dirt roads and there are no pavements. Buildings are still badly damaged or completely destroyed. Everyone seems to be working hard to get the city built up again. Walking down the small dusty roads you have to be alert as scooters and cars are just centimeters away from you. Electrical wires hang across the streets in mass quantity. We even saw two men trying to put one up and it was just hanging in the middle of the road. Most of the shops are hiking, tourist or food shops. There is such a buzz in this city it is beautiful chaos. After a small walk we decided to change some money and head back to the hotel. The only bit of dodgy trouble we had the entire month happened this day. Once we changed our money we did a quick count in the shop. As we counted the man at the counter was straight on the phone to someone and we heard him speaking Nepalese then say ‘Australian Dollar’. I assumed he was phoning the bank. We left the shop and not 30 seconds later a man came up to MK talking to him. When I turned around I saw another man very close to MK’s back pack. MK soon realized something wasn’t right when they complimented him on his Australian accent (neither of us are Aussie). We made a few quick turns and lost the two men. We figured the guy at the shop had tipped off his friend that we had changed a fair bit of Australian dollar. As I said earlier that was the only dodgy incident with people we had for the entire trip.
In the afternoon we met Raju in the lobby of our hotel and walked over to the trekking companies office. In the office we ran through our itinerary and paid the balance of our trip. We received a t-shirt each and a map for the route to Everest Base Camp. At this point it felt so exciting and nerve wracking to think we were so close to starting the trek. The trek did not start for another week but they really went over and beyond to look after us. We had booked to go to Chitwan National Park before the trek. Raju offered to take us to the bus the next morning and pick us back up from the bus when we returned. With all our questions answered we left the office and headed back to the hotel to get ready for tea. That night we walked around Thamel to a place called OR2K. Really laid back restaurant with a huge menu (veggie menu). Chilling on the pillows we tucked into different types of bread and dip along with a Everest beer. It felt great to relax and start to enjoy Nepal. Back at the hotel we packed a small bag for Chitwan and planned to leave our big luggage in our trekking hotel the next morning.
Early start as we had to meet Raju in the lobby at 6AM. He pulled up on his bike and we popped our duffel bag on the back of the bike. We walked behind him with our backpacks. Our first stop was the trekking hotel were we checked in our backpacks. Next stop was the bus. We followed Raju down to the main road were about 10 buses were lined up. Everyone was trying to get us on there bus. Raju took us to our bus and sorted our tickets out for us. The roads were still busy even in the early hours of the morning. The buses have a unique way of reversing. The ticket boy stands at the back of the bus and bangs on the back to let the driver know hes fine to reverse. When he stops the banging the driver stops reversing and waits for the banging to start again. 7AM came and we were off on our 8 hour bus ride to Chitwan National Park.
A massive item on the to do list for any trip is insurance, to protect yourself and your belongings. I did seek advice from the travel company and blogs on Nepal to make sure I had everything covered. I would suggest the same thing to anyone, seek advice from the professionals, the people who are taking you up the mountain. For example I learnt that most travel insurance companies only cover to 3000 meters whilst we need to be covered up to 6000 meters. There are lots of little bits you need to make sure you have covered in your policy.
Finding insurance to cover Everest Base Camp was pretty easy as it is a popular trip these days. The issue I was having was with a simple question of “Where am I a resident?”. I do not have my PR visa yet but I live in Australia and have all resident rights. I know I am classed as a temporary resident. On a lot of insurance websites this was not clear and when I would contact the companies no one would give ma yes or no answer to whether I was covered under there Insurance policy. It was a incredibly infuriating process and I seemed to be getting no were. I could not believe that a company could not inform of me if I would be covered or not but were ever so happy for me to pay out for the insurance. I don’t want to name and shame but I will mention the company we have decided to go with. They have a really clear policy about people on temporary visa’s in Australia. Zoom is who we went with in the end and they also have a live chat bubble and were very helpful when I selected my policy. I got the whole month covered by Zoom along with my trekking cover and cover for my camera. Fingers crossed we do not have to use the policy but it is a relief to get that one crossed off the list.
Over the July long weekend we stayed in Sydney to save some pennies and to do a hike. As you all well know we are training for base camp trek in September. We have already done a few hikes over the past few months. The hike we did this weekend was to the Ruined Castle via The Golden Staircase.
The hike is located in the Blue Mountains just outside of Katoomba. You can actually hike to the Ruined Castle from Katoomba. We started from the Gold Case Staircase car park. It took a hour and half to drive to the starting location. Setting off a bit later then planned in the morning the car park was full when we arrived. We ended up parking up the road about 1KM from the carpark. The road down to the carpark is very bumpy and has huge pot holes I would not take a low car down this track, we saw a few people struggling with their cars. The weather was suppose to be dry during the day… do not do this walk in wet weather with the steep inclines it gets slippy. Be careful and please read all the information provided on the NSW National Park website (link at the bottom of this blog). It had rained the day before making the ground still a bit wet.
The start of the walk takes you 800M down the Gold Staircase. This path is steep and has steep inclines and steps to tackle. There is a railing around most of it but there are parts without so please be careful. MK did slip on our way down as one of the rocks was slippy but luckily he didn’t slide anywhere. The views as you go down are beautiful ,I didn’t get my camera out as I was to busy looking where my feet where going. Once at the bottom of that section you walk 3.5 KM to Ruined Castle. This is a easy path its flat most of the way and no sheer drops. It goes through a rainforest type environment, it looks like how you would picture a enchanted forest as a child. When you reach the Ruined Castle camp site there is a toilet. After the campsite its a 600M steep incline up to the Ruined Castle Rock. There were lots of walkers on this path and on top of the rock . The rock was extremely busy with people having there lunch.
We completed 10KM in 3 hours but I would advise 4/5 hours as we did not stop for lunch and were rushing to get back. Lucky for us as we got back to the car the heavens opened, so we missed the downfall. If you are a experienced hiker and good with heights you would enjoy this walk for sure. Below is the link to all the official information you need to complete this hike.
Hiking is getting easier for us and our legs are not hurting the next day either which is a great sign. Our hiking boots are getting warn in and no blisters which is another good sign. I have a fear of heights and I have been working to conquer this and control my fear. If you read the Mt Kosciusko blog you will know I froze when I had to climb over a snow bank…well I made sure on this hike I fought through all my fears and had no wobbly legs. I am extremely happy with how I handled myself on this hike as I was way out of my comfort zone height wise but kept a good strong grip on my fear.
information on the walk CLICK HERE