It’s not a holiday (honest)

At last it’s come round! Later today I depart for first Heathrow, then Bahrain, then finally Kathmandu! It’s been a hell of a long time in the planning, and the fundraising, throughout which I’ve been ably assisted by loads of lovely people, has totaled £3,109.55. To give a quick overview of my trip, the first week will be spent living in a village in the Bardia region of North East Nepal, building houses with the local community as part of project by the charity ActionAid who I’ve been fundraising for. The second week will be divided between the Royal Chitwan National Park and Kathmandu. From then on I’m at the end of organised activities and pretty much on my own until my visa runs out at the end of November! I’m keeping my plans pretty open but I want to visit the World Peace Pagoda in Pokahra, and the birthplace of the Buddha at Lumbini. Other than that I’ll see where the winds take me, with heavy reference to my trusty Lonely Planet guide.

Jealous? You’re jealous right? However I’m staying well off the tourist track and I won’t be trekking up any mountains (not enough time and I don’t have any of the right gear). This ain’t no holiday jolly, it’s part of a huge charity fundraising event organised by ActionAid which has raised about £50, 000 through the volunteers for this trip. As the people who sponsored me know (they were lectured at length by me) I’m really not going there for the fun of it, although it’s definitely a trip of a lifetime, I really do care and want to understand and help the people of the Kamaiya, whose lives are so far beyond my own experiences as to be literally another world. No electric, no toilet (just a hole), no house, could I live like that? I’ll soon find out…

Half the fun is I’ve only met a few of the group of volunteers I’m going with once before, in London, in August. The rest I haven’t met at all, we’re all just going to turn up at Heathrow in our ActionAid t-shirts and take it from there! From what I’ve seen of the rest of the group we’re all very diverse, but single minded in taking part in this challenge; I for one can’t flipping wait.

On a lighter note I’ve decided to grow a beard whilst I’m out in Nepal, partly to fit in with the roughing-it-trekking community and partly because I can’t be doing with shaving half way up a mountain in a bucket with no mirror. So I’ll be taking photos of beardy progress over the course of the trip which may or may not end up on my flickr, so watch out.

And yes I am taking a hard-hat (I am actually going to be doing some serious building).

Check out: http://www.myactionaid.org.uk/alanofford

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