EchoStars will be offering a trek to Nepal departing October 22 2012 with an optional visit to Bangladesh and BrightStars School. Full detials will be posted on line by June 30. Register your interest with Rose Figtree at rosefigtree@echostars.org.

The Rhododendron Forest in full bloom with the Annapurna Range

The Rhododendron Forest in full bloom with the Annapurna Range

Dhaka can become rather bleak due to the poverty, the overcrowding and the lack of effective infrastructure which combine to make the quality of life less than inspiring.   Kathmandu offers a quick get away for a bit of R and R being only a one hour flight away and while still suffering many of the same ills as Dhaka, it is less crowded and an escape to the Himalayan foothills for a trek is always a tonic for the soul.
Just before Easter this year my husband and I did another  trek  in Nepal. It was Spring so we headed for the Annapurna Sanctuary where we were able to walk the ancient, gnarled and majestic Rhododendron forest with the added beauty of the full bloom.
I am privileged to live in a temperate climate in Australia near Sydney that attracted the early British gardeners as they could plant gardens and trees reminiscent of the ‘old country’.  The resulting effect today is a landscape of four seasons each with its dominating colour and mood.  An invigorating and beautiful place to live and like the early British I too am obsessive about the rewards and pleasures of gardening.  I always begin my ‘third world visits’ with wonderment that the concepts of ‘pleasure’,  a ‘holiday’, the idea of ‘relaxation’, can inhabit the  same arena with the constant array of street vendors of cheap trinkets – always too desperate for a dollar – the congested dusty roads, the ugly unplanned development, and the general hotch potch of over populated and under facilitated poor countries where you rarely see a tree or a flower.  The ugliness of it all combined with hideous over population and poverty is somehow often romanticised by writers and film makers. We interpret this ‘withoutness’ as some sort of higher  zen simplicity but I don’t buy it.  From the moment of stepping off a plane into the pollution, the poverty and the all pervading smell of the third world I have to pause and wonder where the beauty went and why I often leave my home in the Southern Highlands of Australia to holiday again in this part of the world.
In spite of the urban nightmare that is now Kathmandu I knew the ‘Wild Beauty’ was not  far off and once again bemoaned the fact that these overcrowded hotspots have all but lost all connection to the wild natural beauty that once proudly embraced them. It was this ‘wild beauty’ that I was after and I knew that once I began the trek I would  suddenly be blind to this assault on dignity and the value of human life, the scarcity of the ‘niceties of life’, and once again be  utterly mesmerized and lost from my usual dimension of life.

Is this why we are passionate about our gardens?  Is the magic that uplifts us from our banal lives wrapped in the petals of our delicate flowers?  I can only attest that to see the wild Annapurna Range from the foothills of the Himalaya surrounded by the Rhododendron forest in full hot pink bloom, sprinkled with pure white Alba Magnolias bursting their serine beauty all interlaced with wild Daphne was an ethereal experience for me.  The forest floor was not as yet carpeted in petals as the bloom had just begun. In every direction Rhododendrons were bursting their pink and sometimes red bloom across the hills and through the valley floor.  The Rhododendrons were the star attraction with their age old trunks gnarled and twisted from the Himalaya wind and some as tall as redwoods as they struggled out of the valley in search of the elusive sun  and others as fat as oaks as they basked in their prime sunny southerly positions.

Old growth forests must surely be one of the grandest of all wilderness experiences but to see such a forest in floral bloom struck me like someone seeing the ocean for the first time.  Nothing can quite prepare you for the experience of this wilderness in full flush.

Once again I return home to ponder the majesty of nature and the intrinsic beauty of plants and the landscape that surrounds us from our little gardens to the immense and glorious mountain tops of the Himalaya.

Share:Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone