Kathmandu, Nepal – destination one

Our first stop of the South Asian adventure is Kathmandu and there couldn’t be a better place to take me out of my comfort zone.

From trying to get a visa in the airport on arrival (3 separate parts of the process and each took an age) it became clear that we were on Nepal time, which took a bit of getting used to. 

Even as I write this we’ve been in a taxi for days (an hour and a half) endlessly stuck in traffic travelling from the Boudhanath Stupa back to our hotel. Still it’s given me the chance to people watch, write today’s diary entry, delete and edit my photos, write two blogs (well once this one is done) and do a good bit more people watching. As you can see, I’ve not quite switched into holiday mode yet. 

How do I explain Kathmandu? I would say both hostile (the head ache inducing pollution, the constant beeping, the piles of rubbish everywhere) and welcoming (the people and their hospitality, the variety of colours that just don’t exist at home, the amazing food). Add to that the incredible beauty of the many temples where people worship, the quiet spaces that people try to create in amongst the chaos and the unpredictability of it all, you have a slight glimmer of what being in Kathmandu is like.

On the way to the Buddhist stupa I mentioned above, here are just a few of things spotted in and around the roads:

Monkeys swinging from dilapidated temples, monks on mopeds, cows walking in gangs down the road, families of 3 and a kids bike on one tiny motorbike, a man counting money while he drives, goats and stray dogs making friends, trucks decorated with colourful patterns and necklaces, chickens chasing each other, a man taking a pee in a pile of rubbish beside our taxi…etc etc.

If ridding myself of western ideas of what society should be is something I want from this travelling malarkey, there can be no better place to start that journey than Kathmandu. Still it’s ok to admit that I’m looking forward to the peace and quiet of the mountain paths and tea houses right? Onwards to Pokhara for a 6 day trek.

Preparation: Enough medication for travels

When I first had the diagnosis of Myasthenia Gravis four years ago this month, one of my first thoughts was I’m not going to be able to do any extended travelling.

Before I left home for university, one of my bedroom walls was covered with magazine cuttings of places I wanted to visit. The more exotic the place, the more likely it was to feature in my shrine. And while I’ve managed to visit many wonderful places over the years, there was one kind of trip I pined for then and haven’t managed to do yet. The gap year – a year away from the stresses of everyday life to re-evaluate what I want from life.

After the MG diagnosis in 2013 and starting medication to treat it, I realised that taking off to the explore for a year was very unlikely. This was mainly because the longest prescription I could get at the time was a month. Even a 10 day holiday proved problematic and needed careful planning. My travel dreams were in tatters, but my focus shifted to getting well.

As I reduced my meds and my condition stabilised, I was told I would be able to increase my prescription length to 3 months for all but aziathioprine – the drug that suppressed my immune system. While 3 months wasn’t a year, it was a lengthy chunk of time that gave a lifeline to my travel dreams. If only I could get off the aziathioprine.

And that’s what I did – slowly, slowly, with several set backs and with the support of a very encouraging consultant. Once that finally happened at the end of 2016, Elaine and I were already planning our wedding. Honeymoon destinations had come up with the discussion of some travelling at last but it was going to cost enough to get married.

Then one day we just decided, let’s do it. Elaine had wanted to travel too, and with her own health issues calming down in harmony with my own, the timing seemed perfect. As did the shorter period of travel – 3 months – so that I could come home to get another prescription and we could celebrate Christmas at home (not to mention my mum’s 70th birthday).

So here we are – 3 days into an (almost) 3 month trip to Nepal and south east Asia. We’ve already seen so much and I’m so very glad I didn’t hold off for the indefinite one year break. I have enough meds to last the time and a few extra just in case. I also brought a bottle of pyridostigmine with me in case my symptoms flare in the exotic climate. I can only hope nothing happens to them during the trip.

Extended honeymoon

It has been a while since I’ve posted here and in truth that’s because I’ve been busy. I’ve been working away from home Monday to Friday and in my free moments I’ve been preparing for my wedding (most definitely the best day of my life) which happened in August.

More recently I’ve been preparing for my upcoming extended honeymoon.

That’s right – Elaine and I have decided to do something extra ordinary for our post- wedding break and so we’ve given ourselves up to 8 months off work to travel.

After many years of one of us working away from home, we’ve decided to start our marriage with some lengthy quality time together and to go to parts of the world we’ve dreamed of seeing:

  • Nepal
  • South east Asia
  • South America

Far flung foreign climes with completely different eco systems and germs  – that’s pretty terrifying for a person with MG. Particularly someone who was immunosuppressed for years. 

But now feels like a good time because: 

  • I’ve been in good health over the last number of months and years
  • I’ve trained hard to get strong enough for the adventure
  • I’m on very low medication meaning that I am able to survive without trips back for meds
  • If not now, then when?

I plan to write this blog regularly when I’m away to show the highs and the lows of life on the road with MG. I’ve not met anyone with MG who has travelled for long periods and so I want to share my experiences about it (if you have, please share yours with me). But I’ll also be sharing general experiences of being on the road.

I’ll get into all the different aspects of preparation and the actual going over the next few blogs, but for now I have a 2 page to do list that will not sort itself! Pictured in preparation mode – testing my equipment in the Pentlands.