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Friday, November 11, 2011

Learn all About Charity Trek 2012

After the two successful campaigns in 2009 and 2010 Charity Trek is back with an even more ambitious plan for 2012. Keeping true to our original commitment to the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation in Thailand to support over 100 HIV+ orphans in its care, follow our attempt to reach the summit of Imja Tse (aka Island Peak) at 6,160 m (20,210 ft) above sea level in the Khumbu Himal range of Nepal in September / October 2012.

Visit the new site and support us: CHARITY TREK 2012

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Charity Trek 2010 Still Going Strong


By Marco Gorin - Recent media coverage by Travel Daily India and Travel Daily Asia sustains momentum generated by Charity Trek 2010 and gets a glimpse of what is in store for the future.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Charity Trek 2010 The Video

By Marco Gorin - Finally the official video of Charity Trek 2010 is ready! Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Memorable Week But We Are Not Done Yet !!
















By Marco Gorin - At about 08:30 in the morning of Friday 28th January 2011 Steve and I, along with Steve's father, Frank Skilbeck and eight members of the Galileo Thailand team departed on two vans for the 8-hour journey to Yasothon in the North East of Thailand. Our mission: To represent all the kind souls and organizations whom supported us so generously in raising awareness and funds in support of the HIV+ orphans at the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation through Charity Trek 2010.


The journey upcountry was quite uneventful apart from some very spicy and delicious Isaan food for lunch along the way. However, the following day was not to be so!

We reached the grounds of the foundation at 09:00 on Saturday morning and were greeted by a multitude of children whom affectionately referred to us as Mums and Dads accordingly. Memories in my head echoed with views of the visit conducted in December 2009 after Charity Trek 2009 in the Annapurna region, with our dear friend Nick James whose ashes were scattered by Steve at the top of Kala Patthar at the highest point of Charity Trek 2010 in the Khumbu Valley at the feet of Mount Everest and other Himalayan giants. The children then launched into a fantastic display of hospitality by entertaining us with a series of singing, dancing and magic tricks performances. We just sat and watched engulfed in a tremendous roller coaster of emotions ranging from absolute joy and elation of being finally there delivering all the good we work so hard for, to absolute sadness in just only beginning to grasp some of the realities these children face on a daily basis; some looking pretty energetic and healthy, others, I am afraid, showing the clear signs of AIDS progressing unrelented in their small bodies.

I can speak for my own emotions but could clearly tell from the eyes of others around me that such feelings reached an ever heightened state at the time when all of the kids surrounded us to thank us personally by tying little white strings around our wrists as a traditional gesture of thanks and good luck. All of them, one by one, from the smaller to the toller with such grace and genuine gratitude. A moment we will never forget. What struck us was the fact that a number of them, in spite of their young age, hardly ever smile. A reminder of the hardship they must have suffered before landing on the friendly shores of the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation which, like an island for a drowning man at sea, offers them safety, security and, above all, a loving home!

Care of Galileo Thailand we delivered individual presents to all of them along with food and clothing items. When they thought the bounty was over we surprised them again with a lucky draw game where every one was a winner. They absolutely loved it!!

On this visit we delivered a total of THB750,436 (USD24,251) but that is not all as we are working on an additional donation transfer of about THB 100,000 (USD3,232) to the dedicated charity account in Thailand and from there to the foundation sometime in the next month or so. Something to look forward to particularly given the fact that the money we presented on this visit is barely enough to keep the place going for a month with retro viral drugs being the highest cost item apart from food, clothing, education, maintenance, transport etc. etc. etc. etc. . It does put everything in a very different perspective.

Sadly Khun Suthasinee Noi herself, or Mae Tiew as the children call her affectionately, was unable to join us due to intensive treatment in her on-going battle against intestinal cancer. We did spend sometime talking with her deputies, learning more about their plans and challenges and also reviewing progress made since the last visit. Eventually we left for the return journey to Bangkok after a very affectionate send off by the entire group of children and staff at the foundation.
As there will be a second wind in terms of being able to make much needed funds available to the children of the foundation it is not too late for those who have yet to donate and wish to do so! The online donation gateway on the official site is still active and allows an easy way to make donations by credit card on-line and with a choice of multiple currencies.
More updates will follow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dates for Visit to Foundation Set


By Marco Gorin - Nearly two months have passed since our return from the Himalayas. We have been busy with catching up on work, families and life in general and had our fare share of well deserved rest during this past festive season. The originally planned dates for the visit to the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation to deliver donations and spend time with the kids there had to be amended due to urgent work commitments which could not be overlooked.
Steve and I along with members of the Galileo Thaialnd team will be now driving to Yasothon on 28th January 2011 and return to Bangkok the following evening. It will be great to visit the foundation again and, like last year, it will be a great experience which we will savour on behalf of all of the kind souls whom have been supporting this venture. A lot has happened since the last visit in 2009 and there will be a lot to ponder over after this trip.

The delay in our visit is actually a good thing as it offers any late comer or still pending donation to reach us in time. A difference can still be made! Think about it.

We have also been hard at work in the production of the official DVD video of the trek to Everest Base Camp and Khala Pattar and we plan to be able to post it and share it with all soon after our return from the foundation. It will give you a good idea of all the highs and lows we went through and it will include some footage of the visit and the kids as well.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Media Coverage for Charity Trek 2010 Continues


By Marco Gorin - Another article about our endeavour appeared in Travel Business Monitor 18 December 2010 edition.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fresh Media Coverage for Charity Trek 2010


By Marco Gorin - Here is a copy of the article appeared today in Travel Daily India

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mission Accomplished !






By Marco Gorin - 18 days have gone by since Steve and I set out for Kathmandu and the beginning of our 2010 Himalayan adventure. While on the trek time we could not make head or tail of time as it loses all significance as we know it and experience it in our daily lives back home. More than once both of us commented on that fact that, once committed to the trek, everything else seemed to be so distant, especially the days and flurry of activities leading up to our departure. Now, only a day back home, the whole experience seems to still so vivid in our minds and yet so far!!

While we experienced some technical difficulties on the way we can safely say that our mission of trekking to the top of Kala Patthar and on to Everest Base Camp was accomplished !

In the early morning of Monday 15th November 2010 we set off to Kala Patthar from our high camp in Lobuche at 4,900 m above sea level. Once crossed the 5,000 m line and only a few hundred vertical meters from the summit I had to made the painful, yet wise, decision of turning back due to the onset of Cerebral Edema one of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (aka AMS).

Steve, however, soldiered on and at 12:46 of a gloriously clear day he made it to the top!

While I descended as quickly as possible to Pheriche to lessen the effects of AMS, Steve went on to spend a night at 5,200 m at Gorak Shep to carry on the following morning to reach Everest Base Camp (EBC) at 09:12 am on Tuesday 16th November 2010 ! He then continued down hill to conclude a 11 hour marathon which saw us reunited at Pheriche in the late evening of the same day.

Steve is obviously ecstatic with the accomplishment. I am happy to have walked out on my own two feet and, with him, extremely pleased that, while not together, we did manage to complete the mission.

Apart from accomplishing the original goal in support of the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation we were also able to provide our late friend Nick James with a superb resting spot on the shoulders of giants and under the bluest sky !! Nick's ashes were scattered in the winds by Steve from the top of Kala Patthar soon after reaching its summit. Farewell dear friend !!

Over the next few days and weeks Steve and I will attempt to provide a more detailed account of the experience by words and pictures.

We wish to thank all the people whom supported and helped us along the way be it in the form of donations in support of the foundation and the HIV+ kids or on the trek itself.

Donations will be welcome for a while longer before we make our way to Yasothon in mid January 2011 to deliver the full sum to the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation.

If you have pledged but not donated yet or if you would like to donate this is the right time to do so.

Thank you.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Kathmandu Here We Come!!

By Marco Gorin - Duffel bags packed, back packs packed, boots ready. We are going to Kathmandu! Steve and I will rendezvous at the Annapurna Hotel tomorrow Saturday 6th November, sort out some last minute logistics in town in the afternoon, attend debrief on Sunday along with the traditional dinner at RR's home before taking off for Lukla early morning on Monday.

The landing at Lukla airport is going to be an experience in itself. See for yourselves by clicking here. From there will be on our way soon after meeting with our team of porters and sorting out loads.

The past few days have seen a real flurry of action on the donations front as well and we sincerely hope we will be greeted back to base after the trek by more kind support and donations!! Keep them coming. From our part we can guarantee that we will not spare ourselves to achieve our goal!!

We are not sure if / when we will have an opportunity to access the net to post updates on our progress. In any case do keep an eye on the official website at www.charitytrek2010.blogspot.com .

Your support is much appreciated!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

6 More Days to Go - But You Can Still Make a Difference

By Marco Gorin - This is probably the second last post before departure. Gear and supplies have been procured, assembled, checked and re-checked. Not quite packed yet.

However this post is really to thank all the kind souls whom have been supporting us in raising funds for the HIV+ orphans at the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation so far.

Some have pledged and donated, others have pledged and are yet to donate. A number of fund raising activities are still in full swing and we hope that many more will join in as active supporters and contributors before our departure, during our trek and after we return to base!!

Donate could not be easier as it can be done on-line at the official website www.charitytrek2010.blogspot.com no matter where you are or which currency you wish to use. It will only take a minute and by simply using your credit card and following a few simple steps you too could make a tremendous difference to the lives of the kids at the foundation.

We are set to break last year level of donation by a great margin. We want to, we are working hard to and WE WILL!

Donations will be welcome until the 15th of December 2010 and we plan to visit the foundation in Yasothon (Thailand) by mid January 2011 to deliver a big cheque, clothing and spend a couple of days with the kids and the great people whom, together with Ms Suthasinee, look after them.

Be generous, be kind and do help make a difference to their lives.

Join us!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Minus 12 and Counting....


By Marco Gorin - 12 days to go. It is not time to start packing the gear but almost. In between work and time with the family Steve and I exchange sms's and emails counting down the days, sharing latest weather reports for EBC and Kala Patthar, reminding each other of necessary items not to be forgotten and basically just saying how much we are looking forward to get started after so much preparation for the outing and work in support of the Suthasinee Noi-in foundation.

In less than a couple of weeks it will all be like a distant memory. The warmth, the variety of food, the comforts of modern living, our families and the surroundings which normally shape our day to day living.

While absolutely stunning and exhilarating the surroundings which we will be calling home for those sixteen days are not to be taken lightly. In fact they must be approached with the utmost respect as, while our outing does not present major technical challenges other than physical and physiological, things can go wrong.

Of course with care and precaution danger can be minimized and that is exactly how we intend to go about living and enjoying this year outing to the hills.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Remembering a Dear Friend


By Marco Gorin - Only 19 days separate Steve and me from the start of the trek. As always, the closer one gets to departure date the faster time seems to go by with various preparations. It has been a tumultuous few months during which much has been and is still being accomplished in support of the HIV+ orphans at the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation in Yasothon (Thailand).

Amidst all of the preparations, communications and excitement though, Steve and I wish to keep the memory of our dear friend Nick James alive as, after all, he will be joining us on the trek.

We thought that a good way to keep his memory alive would be by publishing a recent letter that Steve's father, Frank Skilbeck, wrote to close friends of his to solicit support for the cause. While doing that Frank managed to capture and summarize Nick's personality rather well while providing all with an update on how Nick will still feature as part of the Charity Trek 2010 team in spite of his death this past July. Frank wrote:

Hi friends,

My apologies if you have already received the email included below from my son, Steve, regarding the planned Charity Trek in November with his climbing partner Marco, but I would like to add another dimension. (And Steve’s email warrants a second reading anyway).

A third, important member of the team, Nick James (Manchester lad) passed away in July after battling cancer for years. Nick was a solid citizen who contributed to last year’s trek and was doing the same for Charity Trek 2010. An ex-British army “lifer”, rugby player, a battler and tough as they come…Nick was also bighearted and concerned about marginalized families and is already greatly missed.

There is a bit of brighter news however which, paradoxically, allows a good man to finish his journey in the manner befitting. Steve and Marco have obtained permission from Nick’s widow to scatter Nick’s ashes in the mountains. This means that Nick gets to take part. Through the good offices of RR Pandey, boss of Everest Express a Nepali government-approved trekking agency assisting this entire effort, Steve and Marco have obtained permission to scatter Nick’s ashes atop Mount Kala Patthar. Why there? Because the incomparable views of Mount Everest from Kala Patthar at 18,000 feet suggests there is probably no finer, final resting place on the planet. A short ceremony may take place afterwards at Tenboche Monastery, a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of the Sherpa community. Tenzing Norgay who, you will recall, scaled Everest in 1953 with Hillary, was from the village of Tenboche. So…from all of us Nick…Namaste!

Finally, if you would like to donate, please don’t feel constrained in any way by anything I have said! And, to help you along, I would like to inject a thought that MIGHT have come from Joan Rivers: “Ain’t nothing wrong in asking for money, so long as you don’t spend it on yourself!”

Kindly pass this along to likeminded friends and colleagues who give a damn.

Best

Frank

In the picture above is the late Nick James with members of the Galileo Thailand team during the visit to the foundation in December 2009 after the successful completion of Charity Trek 2009 to Annapurna.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

News update from Suthasinee Noi-In Foundation


By Steve Skilbeck - We have some good news to relate regarding the orphanage: Ms. Suthasinee (affectionately known to the children as Mae Tiew) is feeling much better and appears to be getting stronger with time.

Previously, it was reported in a Bangkok Post article entitled “Illness is no Barrier to Helping Others”, that Ms. Suthasinee had been given only months to live after contracting intestinal cancer in 2000. Well, ten years later, Ms. Suthasinee is proving that illness is no barrier because she is still meeting the many challenges confronting the orphanage; the financial kind being the most challenging as always!

At the last count conducted a few days ago, there were seventy-four children and young folk (thirty boys and forty-seven girls) at the orphanage of which half are confirmed HIV-positive. The kids range in age from newborn babes up to eighteen years old.

Right now, the orphanage’s main requirement, as the cooler weather approaches the northeastern parts of Thailand, is for children’s winter clothing, shoes and such. Also a few books to read and study would not go amiss.

Making a donation to the foundation is the easiest way to help these needy children and you can do this by credit card without leaving your house, or from your office, as outlined step-by-step at the head of the Charity Trek 2010 web page. Or you can arrange a wire transfer into the dedicated charity account. (Details available from charitytrek2010@gmail.com)

Whichever method you chose, be assured that the foundation will put your welcome donation to good use to benefit the children’s welfare and further education.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

When Corporate Social Responsibility Can Make a Big Difference


By Marco Gorin - Charity Trek 2010 has just got a major boost to its efforts to raise funds for the HIV+ orphans of the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation. Thanks to the true commitment to corporate social responsibility of InteGlobe Enterprises existing and future donations for Charity Trek 2010 will be doubled through a dollar for dollar donation matching plan.

InterGlobe Enterprises is an integrated travel corporation spanning various domains: aviation management, domestic low-cost airline, travel technology, travel distribution services, hotel development and management services and general aviation.

Established in 1989 and headquartered in Gurgaon, India, InterGlobe Enterprises has been adjudged as one of the “Best Companies to Work for” in India, for 2008, 2009 and 2010 by the Great Place to Work® Institute, in partnership with The Economic Times.

InterGlobe has a network of 52 offices across 23 cities in India and strategic overseas locations in SriLanka, USA, UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Australia. The enterprise employs close to 8000 professionals across its businesses, which include IndiGo – India’s fastest growing low-cost airline; airline management for 14 international airlines; distribution of GDS; travel technology; development of Hotels in partnership with Accor of France - owner of brands such as ibis, Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure and Pullman; and InterGlobe General Aviation, which represents and services the entire line of HawkerBeechcraft and Sikorsky products.

The enterprise is committed to delivering outstanding value to its stakeholders through its passion for quality and innovation and is also very committed to keeping up with giving back to society through a variety of projects as part of its corporate social responsibility program.

Learn more about it here.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Latest Media Coverage by Travel X Magazine


Success is not by Chance





By Marco Gorin - A trek in the Himalayas is no walk in the park. It requires a lot of preparation and logistics. It requires good coordination and rapport between all participants. It takes a lot of thinking to minimize risk and maximize the chances of success for all participants depending on their level of experience and fitness. Basically like for most ventures it requires the work of many.

Like last year's trek around Annapurna this year Everest Express will be taking care of all logistical needs from the time we land in Kathmandu on 6th November.

Everest Express was formed in 1981 under the stewardship of Mr. R. R. Pandey, the Chairman and CEO, a veteran with 45 years in the tourism industry. Its Managing Director, Mrs. C.L. Pandey, also has 45 years of experience in the field.

Since its establishment, Everest Express has grown into one of the largest travel agencies in Nepal. It is now the GSA for Singapore Airlines and Silk Air in Nepal and is one of the leading Destination Management companies of the country. It offers services to many popular Himalayan destinations, from Nepal to Tibet and Bhutan. They are an active and approved Trekking Agency by Government of Nepal and affiliated with the Trekking Agency Association of Nepal.

I had and will have the pleasure to trek with RR and enjoy the astonishing level of commitment to service, the environment and the well being of trekkers he and his team are able to deliver irrespective of altitude, situation or weather conditions.

Some of Everest Express 55 staff now ranks among the circle of people I refer to as FRIENDS. Not only are they highly trained and knowledgeable multilingual guides, above all, they are extremely caring human beings whom operate expertly behind the scene and never stop delivering over and above any reasonable expectations.

Together with RR Pandey they most probably are the best ambassadors that Nepal could hope for.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Illness is no barrier to helping others



By Marco Gorin - Together with the late Nick James I had the honour of meeting with Ms Suthasinee last year in Yasothon (Thailand) while visiting the foundation headquarters where she and the kids under her care reside.

Ms Suthasinee is very simple in her demeanour and soft spoken yet extremely focused and determined in her work for the kids. What not many people realize when reading about her relentless commitment to the kids at the foundation or seeing her in action is that she suffers from cancer and that her illness is at an advance stage and with no chance of reversal.

Recently my good friend and hiking partner Steve Skilbeck brought to my attention an article which appeared in the Bangkok Post some two years back but which, fortunately, still remains extremely relevant in its contents and its assessment of the work and nature of Ms. Suthasinee whom is also affectionately known by the kids and her supporters as Mae Tew.

To follow is the entire article which we hope will serve as an inspiration to many in both the way in which we should aspire to live our lives by never giving up and also in deciding to make a donation through Charity Trek 2010 in support of this great cause.

Making a donation is really easy as it can be done on-line by credit card in the comfort of your home or office or by arranging for a wire transfer into the dedicated charity account (details available upon request at charitytrek2010@gmail.com :

As appeared in the Bangkok Post / Spectrum Section on 21/12/2008

Article Written By: Bamrung Amnatcharoenrit

Whether at home or in the cinema, most of us have seen the three-minute Thai Life Insurance commercial featuring a woman who takes children off the street and cares for them at her own expense. In the commercial, we see her playing with the children, running into the sea with them in one scene and cradling a guitar and singing them happy songs in the next. We also see her, head shaven, on a hospital bed. Many may not realise that this commercial is based on the life of a real person and her struggle.

That woman, Suthasinee Noi-in, 53, is now in the final stages of cancer of the intestine.

Ms Suthasinee is the founder of Home Hug, or the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation for Children and Youth (3 Moo 12, Ban Prachasawan, Tambon Tadthong, Muang, Yasothon province, 04-572-2241).

She is a mother to 112 children, all of whom have suffered from the results of HIV infection, drug addiction, sexual violence and/or child prostitution. The youngest is two months old and the oldest 18.

In 2000, her doctor diagnosed her cancer and told her she would live no more than six months. Ms Suthasinee's first thought was for the children's welfare. She made a will awarding the Catholic Pracha Pipat Foundation the assets of Home Hug and responsibility for looking after the children in the house, and also to carry on the foundation's work. But eight years after the diagnosis, she's still around, and still making a difference.

She has never been back to the hospital.

''One day I met the doctor who took care of me. He looked at me in disbelief, asking how it was I'm still alive,'' Ms Suthasinee said, laughing.

''Personally, I do not believe in medical diagnoses. I believe life keeps going on if we have a strong spirit

[to fight] against disease.''

At present, she is very happy with her life, saying of the cancer: ''It is just a disease that comes to human life. Life still goes on, as with all my beloved children. Their laughter is a good tonic.''

Ms Suthasinee, called ''Mae Tew'' by the children, has devoted nearly half her life to helping children, in Kanchanaburi and Mae Hong Son provinces before coming to Yasothon. She established Home Hug 21 years ago, with help from the Japanese embassy in Thailand. Her children are well aware of Ms Suthasinee's efforts on their behalf.

''What I want to give back to Mae Tew is to learn as successfully as I can. I believe I can choose a good future for myself from here,'' said Boy, 13, a resident of Home Hug for five years. His father died of cancer and his mother of an HIV-related illness. Boy is a 7th grader with 3.2 GPA who wants to be an engineer.

Ms Suthasinee has chosen to prolong her life through alternative healing. She meditates and regularly bathes in natural mineral waters and a herbal stream.

She believes she is very lucky to be able to work with children.

''Even with the threat of a lethal disease, I don't want people to donate to the foundation because they pity me. I definitely do not want such money. Rather, I want donors to realise the problems of the children and give them love,'' she said.

''Mae Tew has become my mother,'' said Pim, 13, another orphan. ''She gives me love and a good future. She teaches me how to love and help people. She treats me like I am her child. That's why I love her so much.''

Pim, a 7th grader with a 3.15 GPA, said she and the other children help to take care of Ms Suthasinee when she is feeling ill because it was she who took care of them in their time of need.

The early years of Home Hug were the toughest. Ms Suthasinee sold her belongings piece by piece, even her mother's house in Bangkok, in order to build a home for the children, feed and clothe them and buy medicine.

''Sometimes, there was simply no food; the children had to find insects to eat,'' she said of the early days.

Things are now much better, but running Home Hug is an expensive task. Looking after 112 children, paying for food, clothing, medicine, education and utilities, the bills can run as high as 700,000 baht per month. The money comes from donations, but often this is not enough, so Home Hug and the children struggle. This is the reason she can't take in more than 112 children at a time.

Born in Bangkok, Ms Suthasinee's parents divorced when she was young.

Her childhood was spent between her father in Ubon Ratchathani and her mother in Bangkok. She graduated from Technology Krungthep College, now Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep, majoring in nutrition.

She became interested in social issues while still at college. After graduating, she worked at Moo Ban Dek, a village school, in Kanchanaburi for a year and then moved to Mae La Noi district in Mae Hong Son, where she lived for another 10 years.

''I learned many things, among them a way of thinking, from local people. Sometimes systematic study doesn't provide an answer,'' she said.

At Mae La Noi, she worked in agriculture and acted as a consultant on legal issues. Thanks to her degree in nutrition, she was also able to help rural people process and store food, while a personal interest in performance arts was beneficial in educating people.

Ms Suthasinee once walked across the mountains for 40 days to meet a monk at Chiang Khong district in Chiang Rai. There, she dressed in white and ate one meal of salt and pak kood (Diplazium esculentum, a fern) a day. This, she says, was how she discovered her ''inner strength''.

After that experience she decided to spend her life helping others. She returned to Bangkok to stay with her mother and worked with the Foundation for Slum Child Care in Klong Toey. This led her to make a decision to do volunteer work with a doctor in Yasothon. There, Ms Suthasinee found many youths at risk.

Some, aged 15 to 16, were pregnant and some infected with HIV. Many moved to Bangkok for work but knew nothing about the labour laws, so they ended up being cheated.

With scarcely a thought for herself, she fills her days doing anything she can to help the children, from acting as a legal consultant to taking action to help them out of a crisis. In her view the opportunity to do this work makes her among the luckiest of people.

Link to original article:


http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/investigation/8479/illness-is-no-barrier-to-helping-others

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Are We There Yet?

By Marco Gorin - Every time I happen to be on a journey with my kids they inevitably ask me: "Where are we?", "Are we there yet?". These are innocent questions which as adults we may at time think as a bit of a nuisance but which, perhaps, actually show the child innate craving for knowledge through questioning something which perhaps we adults lose somewhere along the way so caught up with our busy lives. Life is a journey and we should all stop from time to time and ask ourselves these simple questions.

For Steve and me Charity Trek 2010, like Charity Trek 2009 has become an integral part of our life journey and, as such, we think this is a good juncture at which to pause (not stop) and take stock of where we are:

1) We are 55 days away from our departure to Kathmandu.

2) We are 90 days away before officially closing this year's fund raising drive.

3) We have so far received a total of 57 pledges 35 of which have already turned into tangible donations.

4) Pledges where donation amounts have been committed and actual donations so far tally up to about THB 110,000 (USD3,550) - About one fourth of what we concluded our fund raising activities in 2009.

5) We have received and are about to receive more media coverage which will help us raise the profile of the cause.

6) We have solicited and obtained support and participation by at least 12 corporate houses which are or will actively promote support and solicit donations both internally and externally.

7) We have successfully implemented a convenient multi-currency on-line donation gateway to make it easier for donors to make donations from the comfort of their homes and offices no matter where they are in the world.

While this is all good it is not enough yet as we want to exceed last year's sum to be presented to the HIV+ orphans at the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation later this year.

The money you can donate will be used to buy retro-viral drugs which can help prevent the occurrence of AIDS which in turn would mean death for the kids at the foundation.

Your donation can also help in buying clothing, food supplies, educational supplies and other basic necessities for the kids to be able to live a life with some semblance to normality.

Like us YOU can make a difference and it could not be easier.

Get on line now at www.charitytrek2010.blogspot.com and make a donation.

Share details of this project with family, friends and colleagues.

Thank you

Monday, August 30, 2010

Join Hands to Make a Difference


By Marco Gorin - When I first started fund-raising I never imagined that it could be such hard work. It is as rewarding as it is hard and that is what kept me going last year and keeps me and Steve going this year in the lead up to yet another challenging test of endurance in the high Himalayan grounds.

Fund raising is not an easy task. Acclaimed and waived by many well wishers but not equally supported. To some, I notice, the fund raiser is a bit of a nuisance. Perhaps a fastidious reminder that life is not just about our own worlds of wants but also about realities where everything is just so much harder, uncertain or down right miserable. To others the fund raiser is someone that should just be ignored. The cause possibly too remote and detached from one's reality. Others will rally to support. Others will take care. In the end it will all be fine just like the ending of any of the movies we have fed our brains on since childhood. It is a wonderful world after all... for some. Then there are the ones whose spirit is somehow moved by the idea and yet allow that initial noble sentiment to drown care of busy lives where procrastination has become a way of life along with blackberries and Face Book friends.

Luckily, however, there are people who are not only moved and feel the universality of the cause but whom also act and rally no matter where, how or who. They are the ones who join hands and willingly make a difference to the lives of many without expecting anything in return safe in the knowledge that they acted and that they have made the difference between hope and despair, between a semblance of a normal life and a life of solitude and rejection.

Hoping that there are more people amongst us who are not only moved but also feel that action must be taken in support of those who are far less fortunate than they are and to remove any barrier to donate easily and avoid any reasons to procrastinate members of the Charity Trek 2010 Team have been very hard at work in order to conclude development and negotiations with a third party provider of on-line payment solutions.

We are extremely pleased to announce donations can now be made easily and comfortably in just a few clicks from the comfort of your own home or office, on-line by credit card.

No more need to go to a bank to activate a wire transfer, no more need to waste energy in writing a cheque and go through the daunting task of mailing it overseas. More importantly no more expensive charges for transfers and / or clearance of cheques which only detracted much needed funds from the cause of the HIV+ orphans at the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation which Charity Trek 2010 supports.

It is really that simple. Just visit the official Charity Trek 2010 site at www.charitytrek2010.blogspot.com and see it for yourself right at the top of the page along with the simple instructions.

Don't ignore it. Don't procrastinate. You can make a difference. Quite simply.

Join hands with us and the kids of the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation.

You will never for a moment regret it.

Thank you

Sunday, August 29, 2010

More Media Coverage for Charity Trek 2010

By Marco Gorin - This past week Charity Trek 2010 got yet another opportunity to spread the word and rally support thanks to an article which appeared on 25th August 2010 in Travel Daily India.

Travel Daily India (TDI) is the leading business to business, travel trade email publication covering India and the Sub-Continent region and produced by TD Media, publishers of the highly successful Travel Daily Asia, Travel Daily UK, Travel Daily Singapore, Travel Daily Middle East and Travel Daily TV e-magazines. The subscriber base for TDI is currently over 12,000 travel trade professionals and growing strongly. With an estimated ‘pass-on rate’ of six times, TDI daily readership is in excess of 73,000.

You can download a PDF copy of the magazine and the article here:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Leading Travel Media House Supports Charity Trek 2010


By Marco Gorin - We are proud and very pleased to announce that Travel Daily Media is officially supporting Charity Trek 2010 and contributed to the cause by producing an article about Charity Trek 2010 which featured prominently in their Travel Daily Asia e-newsletter edition of Friday 13th August 2010 and also in the next edition of Travel Daily India (TDI) on Wednesday 18th August 2010.
Travel Daily Asia is the leading business to business Travel Trade email publication covering the Asian region. Their subscriber base is currently just over 51,000 travel trade professionals and growing strongly. With an estimated "pass on rate" of 6 times, their daily readership is in excess of 306,000.

Travel Daily India (TDI) is the leading business to business, travel trade email publication covering India and the Sub-Continent region, brought to you by TD Media, publishers of the highly successful Travel Daily Asia, Travel Daily UK, Travel Daily Singapore, Travel Daily Middle East and Travel Daily TV e-magazines. The subscriber base for TDI is currently over 12,000 travel trade professionals and growing strongly. With an estimated ‘pass-on rate’ of six times, TDI daily readership is in excess of 73,000.

Both Travel Daily Asia and Travel Daily India like all other e-publications by Travel Daily Media are sent out between 10am and 11am so readers can enjoy a morning cup of coffee reading all the latest travel related news; it's a quick snapshot of what's happening in the travel industry each day.

Our most sincere thanks to the management and staff at Travel Daily Media for this fantastic display of support and generosity!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Trek Plan




By Marco Gorin - It has been nearly two weeks since the premature loss of Nick James; a trusted friend and an energetic supporter of Charity Trek in both the 2009 and 2010 seasons. This loss gives both Steve and I a renewed sense of energy and motivation to achieve our goals in the Khumbu Valley later this year in order to reach Everest Base Camp and from there Kala Patthar at 18,514 feet above sea level, not only to raise much needed funds for the HIV+ orphans at the Suthasinee Noi-in Foundation in Thailand but, now, also to celebrate and commemorate Nick's life.

There could not be a better place to do that than along the valley and the heights dominated by the highest point on Earth – Mount Everest.

Eight of the world’s fourteen highest peaks are in the Nepalese Himalayas and on this challenge we will feel as if on top of the world. We will trek to Everest Base camp and Kala Patthar through the Sagarmatha National Park taking our time to reflect and at the same time to experience the villages, monasteries, lush valleys and Sherpa hospitality along the way.

When we will climb Kala Patthar (5643m/18,514feet) the dramatic panoramic views (360 degree) of the Himalayan giants and surrounding glaciers will make the tough and cold ascent worthwhile and, I am sure, will provide us with a tremendous platform to direct our thoughts to all loved ones including the ones whom we lost. It will be a true challenge, a memorable experience filled with emotions never to be forgotten.

Here is the trek plan after a couple of days in Kathmandu to gather with other members of the trek team and sort outthe last minute preparations before setting out to Lukla:

Day 1 - Kathmandu – Lukla (2806m) – Phakding (2652m) 3 hour’s trek.

After an early breakfast we will transfer to the domestic airport where we will catch our flight to Lukla. Lukla is unique: a Hillary team built the airstrip as part of the Khunde Hospital project in 1965, envisioning it as a makeshift strip to handle emergencies at the hospital – it is now the third busiest airport in Nepal. Here we will meet our trekking crew who will assist with organising our luggage before we begin our trek to Phakding. The trail heads down to Chaurikhaka along the Dudh Kosi River with the ever present roar of its fast glacial waters. Just before reaching Phakding we will cross a large suspension bridge where we will be able to look down to the surging river, which eventually finds its way to the Ganges "The Holiest river of India ".

Day 2 - Phakding (2652m) – Mondzo - Namche Bazaar (3446m) 6 hour’s trek.

We leave Phakding the trail heads north up the Dudh Khosi valley. After crossing a stream there is a small village called Banker village where we will see a beautiful carved Stone Mani wall. On the cliffs above the river it is possible to see musk deer and Himalayan- tahr. The trail is interspersed with rhododendron, magnolia and giant blue fir forests as we follow it to Jorsale, the entrance gate to Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, where our park permits will be checked. Before we reach Namche Bazaar we will cross a long suspension bridge over the confluence of two rivers – the Dudh Khosi from the east and the Bhote Khosi from the west. We then have a steep climb up to Namche Bazaar, which we will take slowly allowing for the altitude acclimatization which is so critical in the success of any high-altitude trek or climb. After the climb we will be rewarded with a view of Everest peeking over the ridge of Nuptse. We will camp here, at the “Gateway to Everest”, for the next 2 nights to conduct day acclimatization outings following the rule of climbing high and sleeping low. Namche is a historic trading post where Nepalese and Tibetan traders exchanged salt, dried meat, gold and textiles. Besides being a superb place to shop for traditional crafts, Namche remains the central trading post in the Khumbu, attracting Himalayan and lowland merchants.

Day 3 – Namche Bazaar (3446m) acclimatisation day.

We spend today in and around Namche in order to acclimatise ourselves to the altitude. NAMCHE, situated on the lap of the Khumbu Himal range and also known as the ENTRANCE GATE OF MT. EVEREST”. There will be the opportunity to trek to The EVEREST VIEW HOTEL at SYANGBOCHE (3880M), where you can see some of the most spectacular views of the region including Mount Everest, Lhotse , Lhotse Shar, Ama Dablam, Kang Tega, Rowaling Himal and more. After detouring sometimes here, we will walk for KHUMJUNG VILLAGE (3790M), which lies tucked at the very close of MT. KHUMBI YUL LHA (5761M)/ Scared Mountain , where there is a magnificent Sherpa village with a nice Sherpa Buddhist Monastery.

Day 4 - Namche - Phunki - Tyangboche (3875m) about 6 hour's trek.

A trek along a very pleasant trail under the soaring height of Thamserku and steadily descend to the Imja Khola and lunch at Phunki where there are series of water driven prayer wheels. In the afternoon, we climb steadily for about two and half hours to Tyangboche Monastery along the forested ridge. The view from this spot, seen to best advantage in the morning, is rightly deemed to be one of the most magnificent in the world. Kwangde (6187m), Taboche peak (6542m), Everest (8848M), Nuptse (7879m), Lhotse (8501m), Ama Dablam, Thamserku provide an inspiring panorama of Himalayan giants.

Day 5 – Tyangboche – Dingboche (4343m) 5½ - 6½ hours trek.

As we leave Tengboche the trail drops down through a conifer forest past the small settlement of Debouche and a small nunnery. After crossing the Imja Khola on a steel bridge, the trail passes musk deer and yak pasture as it ascends past some magnificently carved Mani stones to Pangboche at 3860m, where we will stop for lunch. During the lunch break there is a chance to visit the gompa at upper Pangboche, which is the oldest in the Khumbu and once contained relics that were said to be the skull and hand of a Yeti, but were stolen in 1991. After lunch we continue along the yak pasture, passing beneath the towering Ama Dablam which to me remains one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Not the highest, but the most beautiful. After crossing the Lobuche Khola on a wooden bridge the path virtually follows the Imja Khola, climbing and dipping, to Dingboche, the highest permanently inhabited village in the Khumbu, where we will stay for the night.

Day 6 – Dingboche - acclimatisation days.

We will have the day free to rest and allow for further acclimatisation in order to prepare ourselves for climbing Kala Patthar. There will be the opportunity to walk up the valley to Chhukung (4413m), a small summer settlement village near the head of the valley, which is about a 3 – 4 hours trek. The views from Chhukung are stunning – looking down the valley we see Numbur Khatang and Karyolung majestically rising above Kwangde while Taboche Peak and Tsholatse are on the right. Ama Dablam and the fluted snow wall above the Chhukung glacier feel within touching distance. The rest of the day is free to either explore further or relax and take in the stunning surroundings.

Day 7 – Dingboche – Dhugla – Lobuche (4930m) 5 - 6 hours trek.

Leaving Dingboche, we will walk up a small ridge and then follow the contour round the base of the Khumbu glacier, up the valley, until we reach Dhugla (4600m). After lunch we have a tough 1-hour climb to the terminal moraine glacier, where we will enjoy the stunning views. Our trail passes through a famous Sherpa memorial (a row of stone monuments), built to commemorate the many Sherpa whose lives have been claimed on expeditions to Mt. Everest . We continue round the glacier to camp at the foot of the Lobuche icefall. Tonight we can enjoy the sunset on Nuptse, which seen from Lobuche, is truly a memorable sight.

Day 8 – Lobuche – Kala Pattar (5545m)– Gorakshep (5288m) 8 hours trek.

We have a very early start following a trail along the western side of the broad Khumbu valley, which ascends through meadows beside the glacial moraine. The climb becomes steeper and the ground rougher as it crosses several side moraines. The actual distance is not great but we will take it very slowly to compensate for the altitude, stopping at Gorakshep, which has acted as a base camp for past Everest expeditions, for hot drinks and cookies. We then climb Kala Pattar, this will be a hard climb and a true challenge but the views from the top will be worth it, as all around us will be a huge glacial ice flow. The mountains of Pumori (7145m), Lingtren (6697m) and Khumbutse (6623m) separate us from Tibet and just over the Lho La pass we see the huge rock of Changtse (7550m) in Tibet itself, but the queen of them all is Sagarmatha (Everest) which towers over everyone. After savouring the 360ยบ views of the Himalayan giants, which are beyond description, we will descend to Gorakshep to stay overnight.

Day 9 – Gorakshep – Everest Base Camp –Lobuche (4930m) 8- 9 hours trek.

We will follow the Khumbu moraine glaciers to Everest Base Camp. Sometimes the trail will be on the stony moraine and sometimes across the glaciers themselves. When we reach Base Camp we will be able to catch a glimpse of the Khumbu ice- fall and the crystal clear glaciers. We will also be able to see the Everest Expedition teams who stay here for a long period to acclimatise before attempting the ascent of Mount Everest, Lhotse and Lhotse Shar. We then descend to Lobuche where we will stay for the night.

Day 10 – Lobuche – Pheriche – Tyangboche (3875m) 6 hours trek.

We will retrace our steps to Dughla, descending most of the way. We then cross a small wooden bridge and continue down the Pheriche Valley . We will have a short stop at the hospital here before we retrace our steps to Tengboche.

Day 11 –Tyangboche – Namche about 5 - 6 hours trek.

We begin with a steep descent to the bridge at Phunki Khola, on the same path that we climbed earlier in the week. After crossing the bridge we climb through rhododendron and blue pine forest until we reach Sanasa village, a picturesque village, dominated Mt. Kangtega and Thamserku. Thereafter, the trail stays on a fairly level until Namche bazaar.

Day 12 – Namche – Mondzo (2800M) – Phakding (2652m) – Lukla about 7 – 8 hours trek.

We continue our descent down the Dudh Koshi River past many Sherpa villages like JORSALE, MONDZO, BENKAR, AND TOKTOK, and should be on the right edge of Dudh Koshi (River).

Beyond Phadking, the trail almost goes on a fairly level with bits Ups & downs past some beautiful monasteries and Sherpa Villages often, where the thundering of DUDH KOSHI (RIVER) could be enjoyed at the last day of your trekking returned to Lukla. As we near Lukla the trail makes a steep ascent for approx. 45mins. Tonight we will stay in Lukla to be ready for our flight back to Kathmandu the next morning and, hopefully, to celebrate the successful completion of the expedition.