Green Travel: Getting ready for the Roof of the World
As I have written already, I am training for the trek to base camp on Everest. I have begun in earnest and boy do my legs hurt! Who would have thought that planning a mid-life crisis could be this painful?
The physical part has consisted of nightly walks in the neighborhood, on the beach, and everywhere else I can fit it in. I have begun parking further and further from the front door of stores so that I have to walk further before I even walk through the door. Today I bought a brand new pair of really amazing walking shoes. They make me feel all springy. Wonder if I can walk to the library to pick up some more guidebooks?
But the mid-life crisis is 6 years away and the more imminent trip is the one to China and Tibet. Tentative dates have been set for late September or early October. Getting ready for this trip is a bit simpler since there is far less hiking and trekking involved. The group I have settled upon requires the ability to walk 3 miles a day. That isn’t going to be a problem. I have been doing that for the past 3 weeks in flip-flops. Now with the new springy shoes, it’ll be much easier and more comfortable. There is the question of altitude, and that does worry me. I have never been up as high as 12,000 feet but the schedule allows for a full day to adjust to the elevation. I am also going to talk to my doctor about pharmaceutical options to prevent altitude sickness. Better travel through pharmacology is my motto, but only when it makes the trip more comfortable in terms of things like breathing. Should be a good trial run for the big ascent in 2017. Is it just me, or does that date just look wrong?
The supreme irony of planning both China and Everest, mainly because I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, I have been offered another ascent – Kilimanjaro. And people actually want to go with me. Well, more correctly, they will go if I go. How can I refuse? Tanzania bound we shall be, probably 2 years from now. Guess I had better speed up the training. While Kilimanjaro isn’t as bad as Everest, it is still not a walk in the park. Very glad for those springy shoes. Anyone else interested? Might as well turn it into a party, right?
While it is true that the programs that I have begun to explore more seriously are not green per say they do have green elements that make them attractive to me and afford me opportunities that I might not be able to experience otherwise. For example, we will be taken into the home of a village family and will be guests for the evening meal, but we will also be helping in preparing that very same meal. We will also be spending the night with a host family. This is going to be an interesting experience that will challenge the fine art of dialectic pantomime, but I am also certain that it will be an amazing, rewarding experience that will broaden my understanding of China, and that is exactly what green travel is all about.
There is also a planned trip to the Three Gorges Dam, which includes a tour of the dam itself. This has been a highly controversial project which has flooded hundreds of acres of amazing landscape and drowned countless homes, villages, and towns. I’m curious to see what has been done and what has been lost due to this massive construction. As an environmentally conscious traveler I find this mass destruction disturbing and only hope that the end result is more than they expected in terms of safety and manageability of the river, because it seems an impossible task they have set before themselves: to tame the Yangtze river.
I look forward to the challenge of it and the experience of it. The preparations are cruising along, despite sore leg muscles and the smell of camphor on the air. As further proof of my commitment to getting into better shape, I have also signed up for my local 5K fun run Thanksgiving morning. I’ll get in a race and still be home in time to put the turkey in the oven for our planned 4pm dinner. Never guessed that an eco-trek could be so much hard work before you leave, did you? To be perfectly honest, neither did I. However, I have to admit that I am enjoying the planning and the preparations. Guidebooks are beginning to fill in the gaps in the itinerary from the tour group, and while I know I shall never be able to fully master the languages of the regions I shall be heading to, I have begun to learn a few basic phrases like “hello,” “thank you,” and “I’m sorry,” which are always beneficial to the green traveler. I have also begun looking into the hotels and their green practices. The standard practices are in place and I am looking forward to learning more about what else they do. I am not above offering an idea or two, if appropriate, and if they have a suggestion box. I think my own boundaries will be thrown so wide open and I’ll have some suggestions to add to my own mental suggestion box as well. I can hardly wait!
Travel green. Pass it on.