Wednesday, 14 December 2011

When Two Worlds Collide

I first saw this video back in London, when I was sitting at my desk and dreaming of my impending trip. I got sent plenty of videos at work, as everyone does, but this was one of the most moving things I had seen in a long time and I wanted to share it with you. Something about it makes me happy inside and epitomises what i think about people, travel and exploration (something that has been both backed up, and challenged on this trip so far...more to come on this in due course).

Inevitably naysayers will make comments about the white man ruining the innocence of the tribe; coming in and making irreversible changes etc. but I personally only see humanity in these scenes. Who are we to say that this tribe should remain as they are without ever knowing about the outside world, or indeed that we should go in and shake things up? Ultimately evolution and change, adventure and discovery are all part of life and the reason that civilisations have changed and evolved all over the world through time. This is no different, and no better or is purely discovery and the passage of time.

What this video says to me is that what really matters is that people are essentially kind, happy and good to one another. Instincts are predominantly for good, something that I am constantly reminded of as we travel through foreign lands experiencing overwhelming kindness from strangers, often much worse off than ourselves. This is something we should all remember in today's world. As long as we can respect each other's way of life, learn from and embrace our differences, then adaptation and change is no bad thing. We would not be where we are today without discovery and evolution. I love the stages of wariness, to fascination, to elation in this video. It truly made me feel good about mankind when I watched it. I hope you feel the same.

Monday, 12 December 2011

An Introduction to Mountain Biking...

Beautiful medieval Bhaktapur
...courtesy of Chris Woodcock!

As those of you who know us well will be aware, Chris is the sporty one in the relationship. I do my best but pushing myself to the limits physically has just never really been my thing. However, that is the joy of all relationships and travels of this type. You are exposed to experiences that you would never otherwise have and take on challenges that you never thought were possible. I introduced Chris to the joys of trekking (see his blog on our wonderful trip (and the topic of rubbish!) here) and he introduced me to the pain of cycling up mountains. I thought I'd be OK since I used to cycle to work in London most days. In hindsight I'm not sure that the Himalayas, the most unforgiving mountain range in the world, was a great place to begin my foray into the world of off road cycling  but there you have it...thrown in at the deep end is sometimes a good place to start.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Namaste Nepal!

"Stand behind the yellow line" shouted the guard at Chinese customs in Kodari, the Himalayan border town between the People's Republic of China (aka Tibet) and Nepal. Our passports and Tibetan permits were being checked for the third time that morning and our bags thoroughly searched. I'm not sure for what exactly since whatever we might have had, we were taking it out of the country anyway; not their problem any more. Formalities finally over, after two hours of waiting around, Chris and I finally said goodbye to our lovely Tibetan guide Lakpa and set out on our own over the 'friendship bridge' that crosses the Bhote Koshi river, the natural divide between the two countries. Two Chinese soldiers flanked the bridge on either side  ceremoniously marking our exit.

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Roof of the World

'Tibet'...just the name of the place ignites a flame of curiosity, enthusiasm and interest in everyone we meet. Everyone seems to want to go there and everyone has an opinion. For most it conjures up the image of a country that has endured years of turmoil and tyranny at the hands of the Chinese, a mysterious land that wants only to be permitted to live peacefully, in a Buddhist governed serenity; an ancient way of life that has been all but destroyed by the evil Maoists. The Chinese would argue that this life was in itself is a dictatorship of sorts, that they are freeing the Tibetan people from their religious shackles. I had always wanted to see it for myself and, as far as is possible, make up my own mind.