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Exercise TIGER DELHI GURKHA

28th February 2020

Exercise TIGER DELHI GURKHA

By Lance Corporal Lucy Shilston, The First Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles

When I was told I would be travelling to Nepal as part of the Exercise TIGER DELHI GURKHA team to complete the Annapurna trekking circuit, I felt extremely privileged.

I have been working alongside the Gurkhas for two years and to be joining them in their homeland was a huge honour for me.

On Monday the 11th November 2019, myself and 11 others visited the temple at Sir John Moore Barracks for some words of wisdom from the Pundit, we were all given Tika and a Raksha Sutra. We received this to keep us safe on our travels. Raksha means protection and Sutra means sacred thread and the aim is to protect us from harm, evil spirits and bad habits and most importantly keeping our minds focused.  24 hours later we landed at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu. Waiting for our luggage I noticed how chaotic and hurried everything appeared.

On the morning of the 13th November we had a lengthy drive to Besisahar, for me this was a great opportunity to get eyes on the scenery. I spent the journey people watching, noticing the hustle and bustle of the congested roads. The small street shops selling jewellery and various other local crafts was charming and the smell of Momos, Thukpa and an abundant of spicy treats filled the air. I could sense the excitement from my fellow team members as for them, they were back home.

The next leg of our journey on foot took us to Dharapani. This was route was relatively easy and gave us a chance to familiarise ourselves with our surroundings and each other. We hand railed Marsyandi river which offered amazing views and around seven hours later we reached our stop for the night at a Tea house. Before travelling to Nepal, I was curious as to how a tea house would be, but no pictures from Google or Instagram would do a Nepali tea house justice. Even though I was miles from my home in the United Kingdom (UK), I somewhat felt at home. Continuing with our trek we reached Chame at an altitude of 2670m. This was a concern of mine due to Acute mountain sickness symptoms potentially showing at 2400m and above, with our highly experienced guides we all knew we were in safe hands. Once reaching Chame we checked into our tea house for the evening which was buzzing full of other trekkers, the evenings were feeling colder now we were at a higher altitude, the warm dining hall with the fire burning was greatly appreciated. At an altitude of 3200, we arrived at Pissang. So far, our team was coping well with the altitude and long walks. Day five of the trek took us to Manang. The tea house in Manang was delightful, the small outbuildings were painted in different bright colours with pretty flowers framing the paths.

After a few days to rest, it was time to trek to Tilicho Base camp, 4150m. This stretch of our adventure was picturesque, snowy mountains engulfed us and the air was crisp. There were no roads this high up and I noticed the donkey and mule count had increased dramatically. I found them so endearing with their thick winter fur coats. As an animal lover I was keen to check their welfare. They were in a healthy, happy condition.

The next leg of our journey on foot took us to Dharapani. This was route was relatively easy and gave us a chance to familiarise ourselves with our surroundings and each other. We hand railed Marsyandi river which offered amazing views and around seven hours later we reached our stop for the night at a Tea house. Before travelling to Nepal, I was curious as to how a tea house would be, but no pictures from Google or Instagram would do a Nepali tea house justice. Even though I was miles from my home in the United Kingdom (UK), I somewhat felt at home. Continuing with our trek we reached Chame at an altitude of 2670m. This was a concern of mine due to Acute mountain sickness symptoms potentially showing at 2400m and above, with our highly experienced guides we all knew we were in safe hands. Once reaching Chame we checked into our tea house for the evening which was buzzing full of other trekkers, the evenings were feeling colder now we were at a higher altitude, the warm dining hall with the fire burning was greatly appreciated. At an altitude of 3200, we arrived at Pissang. So far, our team was coping well with the altitude and long walks. Day five of the trek took us to Manang. The tea house in Manang was delightful, the small outbuildings were painted in different bright colours with pretty flowers framing the paths.

After a few days to rest, it was time to trek to Tilicho Base camp, 4150m. This stretch of our adventure was picturesque, snowy mountains engulfed us and the air was crisp. There were no roads this high up and I noticed the donkey and mule count had increased dramatically. I found them so endearing with their thick winter fur coats. As an animal lover I was keen to check their welfare. They were in a healthy, happy condition.

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