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Friday 23rd June, 2017

Recently I took the opportunity to take a 10 day trip to explore Nepal, which began in Kathmandu, followed by Bandipur, Pokhara, Chitwan National Park and then back to Kathmandu. 

Travelling around the country by road where contending with chaotic traffic jams in city streets is the norm. Roads are also made narrower by endless lines of trucks and heavy machinery, which makes even small distances travelled between villages take hours. 

Consequently, I had time to drink in the scenery while inhaling the fumes and ever present rising dust. We were advised to wear masks. Some of the masks people wore reminded me of the personal protective equipment (PPE) worn in hospitals.

It is only two years since the devastating earthquakes hit Nepal, but already, from what I observed, a lot of restoration work is occurring. 

The population of Nepal, of around 31 million people, are mainly Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims and are amongst the friendliest people on earth. 

In Kathmandu on the banks of Bagmati river is the Hindu temple of Pashupatinath. Here I witnessed the holy Hindu pilgrimage where deceased bodies are cremated along the river. I was unaware that others in my tour group felt uncomfortable of what they were observing, where I, on the other hand, was rather curious about the process details. After all I am a nurse....always!

Leaving Kathmandu Valley I headed towards Bandipur, which was once an important stop on the India-Tibet trade route until the1960’s. The elevation of Bandipur is 1,030 metres. Our large bus was driven on narrow winding roads to our destination which was a harrowing experience every time a vehicle passed by. Should there have been a miscalculation, the only route was a steep decline off the edge of the road. I was so grateful to the skilled driver who managed the journey and rewarded him with a handsome tip for his expertise.

During my travels I made it to the hill top Sarangkot at sunrise for a close-up view of Annapurna and Fishtail mountains, before embarking on a three hour walk. The experience was good for the body and soul.

My next destination was Pokhara which is known as the gateway to the Annapurna ranges. It was here where I took the opportunity to take a flight over Mount Everest and a helicopter flight landing at Annapurna Base Camp. Both equally AMAZING! The stunning views will remain with me forever. 

When at Annapurna Base Camp I remembered I had the latest edition of the ANMJ in my luggage, I was not going to miss a great photo opportunity with the journal. 

It was due to an emergency evacuation from Base Camp that I and four others from my tour group were able to extend our time to two hours at the site. It gave me time to wander a little, chat with trekkers from Belgium, France and Germany, and a few Sherpas who are incredible men, so important, so invaluable and so responsible for the safety of many lives. 

The sun shone bright and I felt surprisingly warm. I took off my jacket. I will admit to feeling somewhat affected by the high altitude at 4,130 metres. On landing, a feeling of light headedness progressed to an annoying headache, which only subsided when we returned to Pokhara and two Paracetamol were washed down with a large quantity of water. I thought for a moment about the rescue mission; what were the possible outcomes, and was quietly satisfied I had taken the less strenuous option.

Jackie Wright is an enrolled nurse who has nursed for more than 43 years at Lyell McEwin Hospital, South Australia.  She says nursing has enabled her to do the job she loves and travel, both of which have given her opportunities to meet wonderful people.

To read more articles from ANMJ, view the full journal online at https://issuu.com/australiannursingfederation/docs/anmj_july_2017_issuu