How To Choose Your Hotel

your-hotel-forTraveling is an adventure of its own; regardless of whether you’re going for the purpose of a vacation, to explore or on a business trip etc. The thing about traveling to a new place is the change in atmosphere, it’s as though the air itself is different there. You get to go to new places, learn about new cultures and meet new people. Traveling is a great way to unwind from the worries of home and at the same time it’s a great place to broaden your perspective by learning a new thing or two. Once you’re done with all the paperwork and have booked your ticket, the next thing you need to do is book a hotel.

It’s important that you pick the right hotel because your choice of hotel will affect your mood since its necessary that you feel comfortable and relaxed or else it will in turn affect your trip. The cheapest hotel won’t necessarily be the worst hotel and neither will an expensive hotel mean it’s a good one. Firstly, determine your budget, this will prevent you from going overboard while spending on accommodations. Next, ask for recommendations and look up reviews online to help make your search easier.

Your hotel’s location matters greatly; if you’re going on a vacation, you want your hotel to be located around main shopping and tourist centers or else you’ll end up having to pay for cabs to get there. It’s normal for hotels around main centers of the city to be a little pricier than ones that are father away from the main district but the pros outweigh the cons when you consider the amount of money you will end up having to pay for transporting from place to place.

Your hotel should be situated in a secure area and check to see beforehand if there is any construction happening in the area around your hotel since the disturbances caused by construction affect your sleep and your peace of mind. Make sure that your hotel provides the essentials and always check what services are added into your grand total and what services are charged for separately. If you are on a business trip, access to internet is important for you throughout your trip, so it’s better to opt for a hotel that offers complimentary Wi-Fi rather than paying for it separately and having to pay extra money once you’re checking out.

If you’re going with family, check to see if your hotel will also include complimentary breakfasts since having to pay for your entire family’s breakfast throughout the trip will drain your finances. It’s also necessary that the hotel is family-friendly. With children and their demands, your hotel should be able to accommodate you to a certain extent like lending extra blankets or even providing an extra mattress in case your child has separation issues etc. Lastly, your hotel should have a friendly, welcoming atmosphere or else there’s really no point in going there regardless of whether or not it’s a renowned 5-star hotel.

Advice For Your First Road Trip

triproadTraveling has evolved over the past few decades. We started from horse carts and carriages and have gone all the way to airplanes which are considered the most convenient travel option given how they have turned weeks’ worth of travel into a just a few hours. However, traveling by air lacks the charm that a good old-fashioned road trip with your friends and loved ones carries. Not only is the journey longer, you learn to appreciate the process and it makes the destination all the more worth it. If you’re going for a road trip for the first time, it’s recommended that you read through the rest of this article.

Firstly, never plan your trip haphazardly, this isn’t really a movie where you can just decide to go on a road trip and then find yourself cruising the highway an hour later. It’s recommended to start planning your trip at least a week or two beforehand. If you mark your route and your stop stations beforehand, you will have to deal with less problems during the trip itself. It’s also recommended that you get your car checked and serviced a day or two before your trip to make sure that everything is running perfectly in order to avoid dealing with any unnecessary hiccups beforehand.

Pack smartly; the more weight you add onto your car, the less smoothly it will drive. It’s recommended to only pack the bare essentials and to pack smartly. When it comes to food, taking already cooked and packaged food will help you save a lot of money that you would have spent on fast food that and of course the added guilt of eating greasy food. Get your fuel tank filled the night before your trip so that you have a better start in the morning.

Divide various tasks amongst friends/family, one person can handle the map, one can handle the music and other activities, someone else can handle the food and snacks etc. this will help distribute work and there won’t be extra burden on anyone. Always carry at least 2 GPS systems on you, there are also various smartphone applications that help with routes during road trips too.

Don’t expect things to go according to schedule. While you may have planned your trip, you have to be open to the idea that there can be unexpected disturbances along the way. You might have to take a detour or two if there is work being done, someone can get sick, your car can run into minor issues etc. the point is that your trip can’t be expected to go smoothly throughout. You can even run into fun events like a fair or something in the middle of your road trip. So, always leave some extra space for unexpected activities too because they can help make the best memories at times.

Try to keep a set budget and stick to it throughout the road trip in order to avoid going overboard. Lastly, try not to stress out too much and make the most of what you have during your trip.

Day 1 of the trek into base camp

After getting up at 4:00 am, we met in the lobby and then headed out to the airport at Lukla. The pile of gear as you can see is only about 1/3 of the gear of the expedition as no Sherpa / porter gear, food nor any group gear was included.

The team leader Arnold says that the expedition will move close to 10 000 kg of gear up to base camp.

There are only about 23 climbers on the trip along with a staff of 30 Nepalis helping out with the duties that consist mainly of cooking and helping people up the mountain. The views from the plane and along the trek are absolutely spectacular and include high mountains and glacier fed streams. The countryside is green and the winter vegetables are all out. You can also see blossoms on some of the trees.

The Nepali people are incredibly friendly. They don’t say please or thank you but you feel like an honoured guest in their presence. The people are incredibly hard working and are a tough as nails. They don’t have a word for fun in Nepali yet they are very quick to smile and seem to have an incredibly positive attitude.

The food is simple and hearty, lots of carbohydrates, lentils, bread, potatoes, rice as well as eggs and fired span. The quantities are huge and there is always lots of left-overs which end up going to the Sherpas who eat after us.

The children as you can see are incredibly cute and are happy to play with anything that they find.


Team Arrives at Everest Base Camp!

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

At 8:30 this morning, we departed from Lobuje where we stayed overnight at a spartan tea hut. The skies were cloudless today as we hiked among the Himalyan giants. The day would be a long one, over six hours. Each of us carried more than the typical day pack that our climbing colleagues had. We didn’t trust that the Yaks would take care of our electronic equipment, laptop computers, medical hardware and cameras so we each carried our share. We could feel the altitude as we hiked above 5000m. Too many steps, too quickly, and we were reminded of the rarified air. We plodded along slowly, stopped for frequent rests and drank in the high snow covered peaks so beloved and respected by the Nepalese people that we are traveling with and others we meet along the way. After a few hours of hiking we stopped for lunch at Kalupatar, a small three hut way point offering up Cokes, Pringles and local fare. Despite our lack of inertia post-lunch, we were spurred on by the anticipation of arriving at Everest base camp. Several Yak trains passed us as we hiked higher. We hope to make the video available on the website in the coming weeks. We especially liked the rhythmic tones of the Yak bells as they carried their burdensome loads past us. Two hours past lunch, the terminal moraine of the Khumbu glacier and the tiny tents at Everest base camp came into view. Even more impressive was the upper bulk and summit ridge of Chomolongma, Mt. Everest, rising above the surrounding peaks, like the grand protector of the Himalaya.

Approaching Everest and Khumbu Icefall.  Everest is the tall peak peeking out at the top, Icefall lower right

As we gained the terminal moraine and grew ever closer to base camp, the intricate detail of the Khumbu Icefall became frighteningly apparent. The Khumbu is one of the great dangers of Everest’s South Col route.

Approaching Everest base camp, seen lower portion of picture at terminal morraine of Khumbu glacier

Despite political disruptions, the closure of our Tibet route, constant threats of not receiving a permit for the Nepalese route, uncooperative airline personnel, constant bouts of diarrhea, some with vomiting, and altitude headache, we finally arrived at Everest base camp at around 3:00 pm.

Unfortunately, we are short one member as Dr. Stephen Masselink turned around on Day 6 for medical reasons and headed back to Kathmandu.

We will rest for the next few days and sort gear. Tomorrow we will have our Puja Ceremony.

More tomorrow….

Puja Ceremony at Everest Base Camp

Dear Family, Friends and Colleagues,

Another blue-bird day dawned today here at Everest base camp. Today, we had the second of our Pujas. The first was in Pangboche with the local Lama.

However, it is important to have a Puja ceremony in base camp. The porters and Sherpas will refuse to climb the mountain unless a Puja is held. The mountains and their gods are sacred. The Puja allows those who wish to climb the sacred peaks of the Himalayas an opportunity to provide offerings to the mountain gods and prayers for safe passage. The prayers are given on behalf of the group by the Lama and focus on the five elements of Fire, Sky, Water, Earth and Sun which all contributed in the formation of Chomolongma, or Mt. Everest. This appeases the gods so that they will recognize us on the mountain and allow us safe passage.

You can see from the photos that each team member also puts an important piece of personal climbing gear at the altar to be blessed during the ceremony. There are also offerings such as candy, chocolate, fruit, whiskey, beer and chompu cake, a special Nepalese cake of ground barley, sugar and butter, important in ceremonies such as these.

One of the final acts was to raise the prayer flags that spread out over our camp, and will continue to flutter in the wind for the duration of our stay on the mountain. Each coloured flag represents one of the five elements and signifies to the Mountain Goddess Chomolongma, that we climb as mere mortals and with great respect for the mountain.

Tomorrow we hope to have our medical tent up, and to begin our third series of data collection on the effects of altitude on acclimatization.

More tomorrow…

Christian Otto

Intv. with Canadian Everest climber who saved fellow mountaineer

May 28, 2007
1. Canadian Everest climber Meagan McGrath receiving flowers
2. McGrath with fellow mountaineer Ravi Chandran from Malaysia
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Meagan McGrath, mountain climber who rescued Usha Bista:
“As we brought her (Usha Bista) down (the mountain) she was not able to support her own weight and she kind of fell against the slope. And then as we brought her down further she started to became less conscious, I guess you could say to the point of mumbling. When I was sitting with her she passed out.”
May 27, 2007
4. Usha Bista, who was rescued by McGrath on Mount Everest
May 28, 2007
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Meagan McGrath, mountain climber who rescued Usha Bista:
“Her condition was deteriorating to the point where I was very concerned that she would die. I was not sure what I was going to do at that time. But yeah, she was definitely deteriorating to the point of death basically. So I’m glad I was just one person who started the chain I suppose, but I am glad someone jumped (in).”
May 27, 2007
6. Usha Bista, who was rescued by McGrath on Mount Everest.
May 28, 2007
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Meagan McGrath, mountain climber who rescued Usha Bista:
“I saved her life but she was also dying in my hands too. It was a very tenuous situation, where I did not have everything I needed to help her. So It was an interesting feeling where I was trying to think of the next thing I would do to try keep her alive.”
May, 27, 2007
8. Usha Bista being assisted as she walked out of the clinic where she was treated
May, 28, 2007
9. McGrath shows the position in which she found Bista
A Canadian who risked her life to save a sick climber near the summit of Mount Everest was honoured on Monday by Nepal’s mountaineering community.
Meagan McGrath, a 29 year old, from Sudbury, Ontario, was honoured for saving Usha Bista, a female climber from Nepal who had fallen sick on the way to the summit on May 21.
McGrath, an aerospace engineer with the Canadian Air Force, was coming down after scaling the 8,850-metre (29,035-foot) mountain when she came across Bista, who was suffering from cerebral edema, or swelling of the brain, which can be fatal if left untreated at a high altitude.
“As we brought her (Usha Bista) down (the mountain) she was not able to support her own weight and she kind of fell against the slope. And then as we brought her down further she started to became less conscious,” said McGrath.
She flew on Monday to Kathmandu, where she was honoured by the president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, Ang Tshering, who called her a hero for saving Bista’s life.
She was given bouquets and yellow scarfs used for special occasions.
McGrath said she thought Bista was going to die when she found her barely conscious and leaning on the snowy slopes at an altitude of about 8,300 metres (27,225 feet).
“I saved her life but she was also dying in my hands too. It was a very tenuous situation. I did not have everything I needed to help her,” she added.
“Her condition was deteriorating to a point where I was very concerned that she would die.”
McGrath was the first to come across Bista on the snowy trail and was then joined by another Western climber and his Sherpa guide. They called other climbers for help.
Several climbers already at the last camp, South Col at eight thousand metres (26,240 feet) rushed to help, calling doctors at a lower camp for advice on immediate treatment.
They wrapped her in a sleeping bag, tied her to a sled and dragged her down.
“I am glad I was the one person who started the chain I suppose, but I am glad someone jumped in,” McGrath said.
Bista has recovered, but is being treated for frostbitten fingers and toes.