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Re: Unconventional Travel
Old 01-18-2006, 09:39 PM   #21
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Re: Unconventional Travel

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Originally Posted by kz
I think I posted recently that my dream vacation is an Antarctic expedition. Glad to see there are others who share that dream.

Can you tell me more about your friend's trips, Audrey?? What company does he work for/with?

Thanks
Victor Emmanuel Nature Tours www.ventbird.com . There is some ship company that actually organizes the higher level stuff and different nature tour companies sign on. I forget the name of the ship company. You can end up going on the same trip with several different tour groups - each with their own leaders.

Audrey
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Re: Unconventional Travel
Old 01-19-2006, 08:50 AM   #22
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Re: Unconventional Travel

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Originally Posted by audreyh1

No - doesn't resemble being locked inside a dark deep freeze I don't think.

Audrey
No, not at all! The scenery is spectacular, from what I've seen on tv, internet, books, my screensaver....
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Re: Unconventional Travel
Old 01-19-2006, 10:03 AM   #23
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Re: Unconventional Travel

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Originally Posted by Caroline
Hey There, Fireme -- I'm seriously considering Nepal / Tibet in May -- any tips you can send my way? Anything important to avoid?
I'm not fireme, but make it early May - sometimes monsoon season starts late May in Nepal.
IMHO the best weather in Nepal is in Autumn, but if you are not planning any high elevation trekking any time of year will do.
What do you like to do? Trekking of course is excellent (but if you want some solitdude avoid common tourist trails like Anapurna circuit or Everest base camp). I would recommend white water rafting in Nepal - if you are a beginner try Trisuli river, try Kali Gandaki if you have some experience.

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Re: Unconventional Travel
Old 01-19-2006, 10:34 AM   #24
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Re: Unconventional Travel

Thanks for the tips, Sailor. Right now the plan is to trek in May, in the western part of the country. We fly to Simikot (which i cannot even find on the map), then trek to the Tibetan border and into Tibet. Sounds like a lot of work! ;-)

I hadn't thought about adding a rafting trip but that's a fabulous idea! I'd consider any river less hairy that the Tuolumne out here in CA -- THAT thing scares me silly!

Sounds like you've been to Nepal at least once, Sailor -- did you love it, hate it, or....?

Thanks again,
Caroline
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Re: Unconventional Travel
Old 01-19-2006, 10:57 AM   #25
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Re: Unconventional Travel

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Originally Posted by riskaverse
A few months ago she somehow ended up booking a room at the Cadillac Hotel in Venice Beach.
Venice Beach is one of the most unconventional trips I've ever seen-- that's including drugs and vehicles...
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Re: Unconventional Travel
Old 01-19-2006, 11:27 AM   #26
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Re: Unconventional Travel

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Originally Posted by Caroline
Thanks for the tips, Sailor. Right now the plan is to trek in May, in the western part of the country. We fly to Simikot (which i cannot even find on the map), then trek to the Tibetan border and into Tibet. Sounds like a lot of work! ;-)
Sounds like you've been to Nepal at least once, Sailor -- did you love it, hate it, or....?
Nowadays I'm not sure if would go so far northwest (it's about 500 miles NW from Kathmandu IIRC) - you are aware that there were violent Maoistic insurgents around Simikot? . I'm not sure what's the situation there today (I would look for info on Thorny Tree or some other backpacking BBS)
And for the record I loved the country and people in Nepal.
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Re: Unconventional Travel
Old 01-20-2006, 06:52 PM   #27
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Re: Unconventional Travel

well, Sailor, I was about to point out that the Maoists are behaving well toward tourists (though we were told to bring an extra $100 Euros for them to buy passage), but today's news is all about upheaval in Kathmandu... Looks like that backpacking trip across Ireland is back on the front burner...

Sigh...

I'll keep your info in mind in case things settle down, tho'!
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Re: Unconventional Travel
Old 01-21-2006, 07:12 PM   #28
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Re: Unconventional Travel

The maoist situation in Nepal is I think a bit overblown. For those that don't know, the Maoists are basically the insurgents who want to overthrow the government. They hide in the hills, some of the same hills that trekkers frequent. They are known for extorting money from tourists, but it seems to be a relatively friendly process. They knock on the door to your teahouse in the hills, and come in and collect money from everyone there. I've heard some folks say they negotiated the amount down from $50 or so to $10. IIRC most people paid about $20. The Maoists don't like the US because the US helps the government get rid of Maoists. So people from the US are especially fearful of the Maoists, and will often avoid carrying a US passport while trekking and will say they are from Canada or New Zealand.

Outside of Nepal you hear lots of warnings about the Maoists, but once you are there most people are quite blase about it. I never encountered any Maoists on my trek to Everest Base Camp, but I met lots of people who did encounter them on the Annapurna circuit. Nobody was particularly worried about their safety, and in fact it's extremely rare that Maoists actually harm tourists.

The odds of being harmed by a Maoist are much much much less than the odds of being in a vehicle accident or any of the other ways people get harmed travelling. So I don't think it's worth worrying about too much.

The Maoists also sometimes call a "Bandh" where they try to shut down the city of Kathmandu for a few days to flex their power. This happenned on the last day of my monastery stay in the hills above Kathmandu. Vehicles generally don't drive because the Maoists will take down license plates of vehicles on the road and then come and vandalize them for their defying the bandh. We were worried that we wouldn't be able to get back into town a few miles away.

But it turned out that it wasn't a problem; we were able to find a taxi that defied the bandh. It just cost a bit more, I think several times the usual rate. They had covered their license plate up, and it was kind of interesting seeing all the vehicles on the road had covered license plates. The police don't seem to mind; they are glad people are on the road defying the Maoists.

And during that week that I was in Kathmandu there was apparently lots of hostilities between the Maoists and the government, including a few bombs that went off. But in the Thamel neighborhood where I was, all was calm and you wouldn't know there was anything out of the ordinary if you weren't reading the news.

As far as what to do there, trekking is obviously the thing. I did the Everest Base Camp trek mostly just because it has always been a goal of mine. But it is overcrowded with tourists and the towns are now geared towards trekkers so it doesn't feel like the cultural experience you may be seeking from trekking. And the scenery except for the last few days is pretty boring. It's also a hard trek on the body; you're going up steep hills in thin air and eating food that's often less than sanitary. I got sick with what I think was a low grade altitude sickness even though I was doing the recommended acclimatization.

Annapurna is supposed to be more of a cultural experience and not as demanding, and there are other smaller treks that are probably even more culturally interesting.
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Re: Unconventional Travel
Old 01-23-2006, 11:27 AM   #29
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Re: Unconventional Travel

That's great information, fireme... thanks very much for taking the time to share it! (My fellow trekkers will undoubtedly appreciate it too.

All-in-all, Maoists don't seem too much worse than the IRS here at home! :-D

I'll dig out my British passport and reconsider.

Caroline
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Re: Unconventional Travel
Old 01-23-2006, 12:32 PM   #30
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Re: Unconventional Travel

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Originally Posted by Nords
Venice Beach is one of the most unconventional trips I've ever seen-- that's including drugs and vehicles...
I gotta go with Nords and riskadverse, Venice Beach, CA is remarkably exotic. A beach hotel there would be an experience. You may even want a guide and interpreter. I take visiting mid-westerners there for the shock effect but I am careful to leave before dark. You may be safer in Bagdad at night.

You will see charming gals sakting with boas (not the feathered type) around their neck and interesting tattos, and people of obscure religous persuasions. Muscle Beach is a trip. Health food next to junk food. I figure about half the locals would be certifible in Ohio but when they are together they seem more normal. Sort of like Burningman every day.
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