Wandering Wednesday: Andy Parkinson aka thetravelmaverick discovers Nepal.

For our Wandering Wednesday guest posts we ask a fellow travel blogger to highlight one place (city or entire country) that has been one of the most memorable for them. It can be a fond type of memorable, or “my hair caught on fire, I contracted rabies, and my luggage was stolen”- type of memorable. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We’re taking it all.

For today’s Wandering Wednesday, we’re featuring fellow adventurer Andy Parkinson also known as The Travel Maverick. Andy is a writer, photographer and travel specialist, originally from the UK but now based in Sydney, Australia. Andy has travelled widely and independently throughout Europe, and in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Java and Australia.


Where to find Andy Parkinson (The Travel Maverick):

Website: http://thetravelmaverick.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/travelmaverick

Twitter: @thetravelmav
Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/thetravelmaverick

First things first, Why do you travel?

I travel because I would go crazy if I didn’t. I was brought up in England, and never left the country until I was in my late teens. I think the containment gave me the motivation I have now to explore new places, meet new people, experience new cultures. My first trip overseas was into Europe, on a solo month long train journey through France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece, Switzerland, Belgium and Holland. It really gave me all the tools for travel. Nothing like turning up somewhere remote at 4am, using only your charm and your wits to find food and shelter.

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What brought you to Nepal?

My girlfriend at the time had been before. She’d spent time there as part of her Art History degree measuring buildings in remote Nepalese villages. It sounds out there, and it kinda was – she had lots of stories about the celebrity status she achieved with a simple tape measure. I remember when we first got together, she was talking about her experience, in particular her love for the mountains. It sounds like a move and it probably was but that night I told her I could see the deep blue sky of the Himalayas in her eyes.  We were together a few years before I had the chance to see it for myself.


What was your most memorable experience (good or bad) from your time in Nepal?

I had never travelled so far to such a poor country so arriving in Kathmandu was a shock on so many levels. It wasn’t just the mob of taxi drivers and hotel touts at the gate. It was more the journey into town, the poverty was immense; whole families of people living literally on the street. I was surprised about my feelings. I didn’t feel pity. Instead I fell in love with Nepal, with the developing world, with Asia, at that point. I have so many fond memories of that trip – a good job because my ex girlfriend kept all the photos 🙁

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Any advice for travelers headed to Nepal?

So much to do in Nepal, so much, but itinerary should include a trek into the mountains, it depends how long you have but it can be anything from a few days to a few weeks. I’d advise hiring a guide, up to you whether you hire porters too – this is a poor country and they need the work but I recognise some people may feel uncomfortable having others do all the hard yards. We hired just a guide, an amazing guy called Krishna from a firm called Himalayan Glacier, I’ll never forget the eight day journey I took with him, we laughed all the way and he looked after us like we were best friends. There’s nothing, nothing better than walking for hours until it’s dark, shivering cold, legs aching, head spinning from the altitude, to walk into the next tea house and feeling it wrap around you like a blanket of comfort. Kathmandu is a cool place to hang – read the Himalayan Times!! Chitwan National Park is also a cool place to visit, you can go safari with elephants, black rhino (if you’re lucky) and although the sales pitch talks heavily of tigers, the reality is light on delivery…

How did your experiences in Nepal change you as a person and how you feel about travel?

I’ve travelled a lot since then, so it’s difficult to distance myself from all I’ve learned since then. What I will say is don’t carry any expectations with you. It’s just baggage you can’t manage. To be prepared for shocks and surprises, and to accept them, maybe even celebrate them, is to travel. I remember taking a nine hour bus trip back from an exhausting 10 day trek in the Langtang region. The Nepalese don’t travel well, they get travel sick, when I alighted I found my rucksack was covered in vomit. As I stepped out onto the street back in Kathmandu, the first thing I saw was a white cow, a holy animal for the Hindu religion. It was mutated, it had an extra arm and hoof attached to its shoulder. I didn’t flinch. I knew then I was a traveller, and this was just the start of my adventure.


Okay, last question. Where are you headed next and why?

I’ve just come back from the most amazing festival experience – Burning Seed – it’s the Australian regional version of the legendary Burning Man Festival which sees 50,000 people gather each year in the Nevada desert for a self-sustained, self reliant, selfless week of reconnecting with what it means to be a human being. Everyone signs up to 10 principles (google it) so it means that no-one you meet is a stranger, everyone is a neighbour and a friend. An amazing experience; it’s the first time in a long time I’ve felt the shackles of life fall away to let me be more of who I really am.
Big plans for next year. I’m going back to Burning Seed, October I think. I asked my girlfriend (a new one) to marry me at this year’s event so we will be married by the time the next one comes around. I’m also planning heaps of travel before then – the Cook Islands is looking like a major trip I want to take next year, and I want to discover more of my adopted home – Australia. It’s one of the most amazing countries on earth – I can’t think of anywhere else you can find tropical rainforest, desert, snow and some of the world’s best beaches, all within a few hours drive – and that’s just New South Wales!!!
There are so many places I want to experience – my travel heart will always be in South East Asia, but I’m a huge temple junkie and I really want to get around South America to check some of the Mayan sites.

Do you or someone you know have a memorable experience from your travels? Want to be featured on one of our Wandering Wednesday posts? Send an e-mail to captainandclark@gmail.com

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2 Comments

  1. Glenn Dixon
    November 26, 2011 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Burning Seed? Wow. Should have started working on my bucket list at 15!

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