October 27

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Two weeks of peace and silence: on my way to Mount Everest

I have just came back from my trip up on the Hymalaya. Going back to Nepal after 6 months from the eartquake has been an heartbreaking experience.

Weeks after the two major quakes, they had been really shocking for me. Looking at the same place I loved so much in ruins. My family and friends know quite well, how much I am in love with this part of the world.  I have been travelling Asia extensively in the last 5 years and I had decided long ago that my PULSE break, it would had been back to Nepal and Tibet.

So here I am! On my long flight from Phnom Penh to Kathmandu. On my taxi from the airport to the guesthouse where my friends were waiting for me, the first surprise arrives.  NO TRAFFIC! At this point in time India imposed a fuel embargo to Nepal and people have to queue, hoping to get enough gasoline not only for transportation, but also for cooking.

Kathamandu without tuk tuks, horns or people stuffed on the top of buses is not Nepal! Well, I was sitting on the back of my taxi, observing and breathing silently every single moment.

Tented camp - Bahktapur NepalWe wondered around Kathmandu and Bahktapur for couple of days on our way in and back from Tibet. The earthquake damages are visible. Durban square in Kathmadu is not fully accessible. I can still picture myself observing the world going  by, with my camera in my hands, sitting on one of the monuments in Durban square:  women calling you to sell anything, Tuk Tuk drivers calling you, kids cocooning from the pillars. There is nothing left.

Bahktapur gave me amazing emotions the first time I was there. I found myself surrounded by temples and for a moment it was like being in the” Little Buddha” movie which was filmed there.. Now those places are not there anymore and kids are playing with their kites on top of ruins. 6 months after that terrible earthquake, Nepal is struggling and I believe we should really try to help them.
When I started my trip to Tibet, I didn’t know what to expect. We wandered for 12 days around the country, passing mountains at 5000 mt, completely overwhelmed by the beauty of the its landscapes and of course monastery and monks.Monastery Sere - Tibet

I have never seen a sky so blue and mountains diving into the crystal water are breathtaking. Mysticism is in the air and you are speechless in front of tons of pilgrims in monasteries, their devotion and kindness fulfill your heart and your eyes with colors,

I can’t explain the peace and compassion you feel when you are surrounded by Tibetans. Their faces, the colors of their gowns, their smiles and their sparkling eyes do the rest.

Reaching Base Camp at Mount Everest was one of my dreams since I was a little girl and despite the cold, the wind, staring at the summit made my heart trembling. Up there at night, the sky is full of stars and they make you feel dizzy with its beauty.  You feel like you can touch them.  I was so surprised when I saw a shooting star in October. But I am sure it’s not that uncommon at that altitude.

12039094_10153729643639187_619516974900020789_oPilgrimsWe drove up to Lake Namtso at 4800 mt,, one of the most amazing places I have ever seen in my entire life.  Namtso, Tibetan for ‘Heavenly Lake’, is often described as being next to heaven because of its altitude, stunning beauty, pure blue water. It’s the highest saltwater lake in the world, surrounded by snow capped mountains, grassland and you can spot yaks everywhere.

I sat on a stone and watched the world passing by: old, young people, children praying by walking around the lake. Worshipers believe that if one walks around the lake, they and their family will be blessed with good health, safety, knowledge, and other virtues.  It’s a touchy experience that leaves you speechless.

I am two months away from the end of this amazing experience and I will be off to Laos and Myanmar to support local teams with their communication and strategy plan for a while. Stay tuned for more stories from CARE and GSK.
In the meantime, there are so many moments, faces and emotions I have treasured in my heart and it would not be possible to share all of them in a blog, however let me finish with a tibetan quote that came with me all along this trip: “All the world’s great journeys begin with the first step.”

See you soon

Simona