Category Archives: Nepal

Weekly wisdom – the journey matters


“It is good to have
an end to journey toward,
but it is the journey
that matters in the end.”


Ursula K. LeGuin

The Annapurnas, Nepal

Postcard from Nepal

We’re planning a house move at the moment, so it’s time to dust off more of those travel memories…until we can hit the road again (and not in a removalist van).

Copyright: Louise Ralph

October 2008: We’ve just emerged from the clouds. Trekking the Annapurnas was both surreal and an absolute blast – and the pace was surprisingly civilized (an added bonus).

Of course, EB was hopping from one foot to the other the whole time.

We had a great group…all young-at-heart and, thank god, not out to prove they were super star trekkers.

As always, EB was the social lubricant – possibly because the rest of us were actually gasping for breath most of the time.

Copyright: Louise RalphAt one of the villages, we found some open space and challenged ‘the boys’ (sherpas and guides) to a game of cricket… with a bit of wood and a ball made of something wrapped in plastic bags and held together with string!

The only problem was that a ‘six’ required a jungle safari and sharp eyes to retrieve the ball.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Our sherpas…

On the last night, we rocked the (tea) house ’til the wee hours with our sherpas. It’s amazing what fun you can have with one drum, some dodgy whisky, and a bunch of crazy people.

One bloke in our group said ‘Louise wants to take three of you boys home for her daughters’…which guaranteed I was never short of dancing partners. We had people from the village turning up to see what was going on and joining the party…

Nepal’s scenery is spectacular, the people are delightful, and there’s something magical about sharing rickety rope-strung bridges with a passing parade of donkeys laden with goods. Oh and the food? Delicious and mostly vegetarian. What more can I say?

The contrast with Bangkok, our stopover on the way to Nepal, was another story. A huge, humid, smelly city were a tuk tuk ride is a journey to anywhere – except where you want to go.

…mostly to tailors who ‘make you suit for cheap-cheap price’ or out-of-the-way boat sheds where a business associate (aka cousin) was ready and waiting to take you on a special charter boat with bonus snake park visit.

The adventure continued at the night markets where we had fun bargaining with the locals. Lots of laughs. The market was in the red light district, and every few steps I got asked to go to a ping pong show (note to self: dress like a girl next time).

They take pole dancing to whole new levels in Bangkok… the bars are lined with poles (every couple of feet) with a very gorgeous and very bored girl (or lady-boy) on each, gyrating half-heartedly for the slavering tourists.

Apart from the markets, Bangkok’s shopping centres are mega-huge. One Aussie shopping centre would fit on one floor, and there are seven!

Copyright: Louise Ralph

…walking the streets of Pokara

Back in Nepal, and we’re hanging out in Pokara while some lovely people wash our clothes. I could get used to this!

Tonight is our end-of-trip party (another one). Tomorrow we head into the jungle to look for four-legged wild life in Chitwan, and then we’re off to India…


Bistaarai, bistaarai – slowly, slowly

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Along the Annapurna trail…

When EB and I were trekking in Nepal in 2008, our group hit some tough spots. But our sherpas would just smile and say ‘bistaarai, bistaarai‘ – go slowly and carefully.

That’s not bad advice as we all charge headlong into another year, armed with resolutions that usually involve losing x kilograms, spending more time with people we love, and doing more meaningful stuff with our lives (more travel springs to mind).

Bistaarai, bistaarai… go slowly, or you’ll be dumping resolutions as quickly as you made them.

Look at the losing weight scenario. It might have taken me ten years to gain those (undisclosed!) extra kilos, but I want them off in ten weeks. Talk about setting myself up for being a loser – and not in the intended way.

Long term weight loss takes time…and so does changing those stressed-out habits. It’s also pretty impossible to fit in time to hang out with the people you love, get more exercise, chill out, and get away more often, without making some space in your diary.

It’s a lot easier when you remember who controls your diary (um, you do).

Here’s some quick tips to help you slow down to an easy pace, work smarter – and have more time to keep those easy-to-make, easy-to-break New Year’s Resolutions.

  • Exercise. The first thing you put in your diary every week is when you’ll exercise. Because exercise gives you the energy and a sense of wellbeing that helps you deal with everything else.
  • Be realistic. Put six things (max!) a day on your to-do list. Get done what you can do, and the things you can’t get to either don’t matter enough, or go to the top of the next day’s list.
  • Start the day right…with a decent breakfast and at least 15 minutes ‘chill’ time. That might mean sitting doing nothing, reading, wandering through your garden – or someone else’s (slightly more tricky). The important thing is to allow yourself to do nothing – which is the tough bit.
  • Back to the diary… schedule in blocks of ‘project work’ time where you don’t answer phones or emails. And when someone says they want to meet with you, give them two or three options, not ‘whenever it suits you’ (aka valuing your time and you).
  • Say no to 24:7 availability. That means not always having your techie things in your hip pocket, checking and answering emails as soon as they arrive, or having your office door/space ‘open’. People can and will wait. Really. Which leads to…
  • Stop driving the emergency response vehicle. Let others take some responsibility for their own stuff. If you’re always rushing to meet their needs or taking up the slack, you’re teaching them to be dependant and incapable. Remember this one? Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine…
  • Handle stuff once… from paperwork to emails. Process, file, chuck/delete. That’s it. It will unclutter your desk, your inbox, your house and your mind.
  • Delegate. You don’t have to be the master of everything. If you’ve got the resources, use them. If you haven’t, get them.
  • Breathe. No, it’s not an optional extra and we do forget to do it. You can usually tell you’re not breathing properly when your shoulders are creeping up around your ears (blue lips are also a sign). When the stress gets to you, stop, drop your shoulders and take a deep, deep breath…then let it out slowly, slowly.

Whisper it, shout it, but say it over and over: Bistaarai, bistaarai. Slowly, slowly…


First published on my Dragonfly Ink blog  in January 2009