T – shirts in Nepal and Bhutan!

I jokingly comment with friends and colleagues about which shirt I’m wearing on any given day. It’s a hypothetical question and an indication of my work intensions for any given day. For example it is more likely to be a ‘Live The Adventure’ shirt, but then could be casual or formal based on meetings or day-to-day work. However it could be a ‘Nepal Appeal’ shirt based on fund raising events, a rescue 3 instructor shirt to train the emergency services or a… (And the list goes on).For this trip to Nepal and Bhutan I have a bag full of shirts! I’m trying to combine many reasons to be here, making a stop in Nepal going in and out of Bhutan.

I arrived in Nepal yesterday with anticipation to see what (if anything) has changed in the last 3 months since my last visit just after the major earthquakes. The most obvious thing I noticed was the lack of westerners on my flight into Nepal yet it was the cheapest flight I have had in over 20 years! The tourism trade has been adversely affected, as you would expect since the earthquake. On landing the other noticeable change since my last visit was that Kathmandu airport no longer looked like a military camp, and most of the temporary shelters dotted around the capitol had gone.

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Happier times – post earthquake with relieved friends!

 I spent the short evening stay with long term friends and colleagues, Sharada, and Ranjan at their home. A home they fled after the earthquake following the collapse of a nearby wall that resulted in Sharada breaking her leg. I share their office in Thamel when we run trips to Nepal, a place that was unsafe to visit last time, and I was hoping it was still home to my kayak! They were in the middle of constructing a new home when the quake struck. Their new home was not affected and testament to many of the newer built properties that are being constructed with regard to natural disasters – and my kayak still stands tall in the office ready for customers to enter – but when will that be? Whilst Kathmandu seems to be getting some form of normality back, it is very subdued and not its normal vibrant., lively and colourful self that I know so well.

 Maybe this is because it faces a new problem – one that seems to have taken front seat whilst the recovery struggles to continue in the background. It is going through a political struggle trying to form a constitution and form a single system of governance for the country. After nearly 8 years this appears to have reached a climax with strikes and demonstrations evident and frustration felt by many people that the recovery and rebuild does not appear to be at the forefront of the main parties priorities.

 I spent the evening discussing how we can kick start tourism back to Nepal in 2016, and help them rejuvenate an industry that provides income to so many here. Many areas of Nepal were totally unaffected by the earthquake, trekking routes are open and rivers still there to raft. The home office advice is not to travel to specific areas of Nepal – those most affected by the quake, however there are areas still areas open for tourism and business as usual. As well as the obvious fund raising and projects we are funding through the “Nepal Appeal’ it is equally important for us to look at getting tourism back on its feet to enable the guides, porters and teams of staff to gain an income and help themselves to be able to recover. As far as Live The Adventure is concerned all of our 2016 Nepal itineraries are running and we aim to reemploy the teams of staff in Nepal for our trips next year. In addition to this we will donate a percentage from each trip to the Nepal Appeal to continue the redevelopment in rural areas.

I left Nepal early this morning, but I’ll be back on the 14th when I travel up to the worst hit area Sindupolchok, where the ‘Nepal Appeal’ charity is funding rebuilding projects, to see for myself what we are supporting, and what else we can do to assist in the future.

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Never get board of the one hour commute from Nepal to Bhutan and an Everest flyby!

 At 8 am this morning I flew into Bhutan and drove to the capitol Thimphu in time to see the race winner come in for the ‘Tour Of The Dragon’. As many of you may remember this time last year I brought James, the first UK rider to compete in this 268km one day race, labeled as the hardest one day mountain bike race in the world. With ‘Live the Adventure’ being the marketing partner and sponsor for the race I’m here to present first prize at the closing ceremony to the first Bhutanese rider to cross the line.

 The next day I’ll switch shirts as I start a weeks training for river guides in Bhutan. This will be the first formal guide training program run in country and the launch of ‘Rescue 3’ courses with Live The Adventure being the preferred training provider in this Himalayan Kingdom. The weeks training finishes with a seminar being put on by the Tourism Council of Bhutan in the Capitol with me guest-speaking, as the council strives to form a governed river industry in Bhutan.

Another day of meetings to discuss further training proposals for the military and our own adventure travel itineraries for the coming 12 months in Bhutan and then its back to Nepal.

Then Home!

As I switch shirts regularly I’ll also post updates on our blog and Facebook so you can follow the journey through Nepal and Bhutan.

Ant

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