Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Trails of a Different Life; A Hervey Bay Man Takes an Adventure of Discovery into the Eastern Himalayas

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

Trails of a Different Life; A Hervey Bay Man Takes an Adventure of Discovery into the Eastern Himalayas

Article excerpt

Byline: Words: Mitch Crawley

HOW many steps to the top of the mountain Chris Rowe wasnat sure. Head worked out at its highest peak, Bhutan reached a point 7554m above sea level.

But the Hervey Bay fencer had no plans of going all that way, and besides, head gone higher than that in 2009 while climbing Everest.

No, the highest point in this corner of the eastern Himalayas the 53-year-old planned on going was an isolated pass just 5005m above sea level, near Mt Ganchey Ta, and head do that on day 11 of his 19-day trek a a trek heas committed to in pursuit of happiness.

I say happiness because Bhutan, where Chris has come, is often referred to as the happiest place on earth.

A Buddhist practicing country of about 750,000 people, uniquely positioned between emerging world powers China and India, and direct neighbour of Tibet, itas a place of third-world standing, of forward thinking, of simplicity, of grace, and of beauty a but more about that later.

Much of Bhutanas intrigue comes from the approach its people take towards their lives. For instance, they still use buffalo and cart to plough fields; they still have shepherds that walk hillsides guarding livestock; television is a technology they refuse to embrace.

But in saying that, itas a lifestyle they choose not one that is forced on them, and in contrast to the simplicity mentioned above, they do embrace some technology like mobile phones and also cars in the major cities.

aI think it could be the happiest place on earth,a Chris adds.

aEverything Iave ever heard about it and even experienced. You donat hear of any fights among the local people or anything like that. Everybodyas happy. They all bend over backwards to help you and you never feel threatened.

aThey help each other too, they care about each other a itas amazing.a

Bhutanas dedication to contentment can be traced to its fourth and current king, and the phrase he penned more than 40-years-ago: Gross National Happiness.

GNH, as it is otherwise known, is based on the four-pillar structure: sustainable growth, protection of culture, good governance and conservation of the environment.

To excel at all four is said to be the perfect formula for happiness. Itas a way of life in Bhutan.

Chris Roweas interest in trekking was sparked in 2006 a while he was conquering the relentless Kokoda trail.

Perhaps in part it was because he was following in the footsteps of history and something just clicked for him.

He followed up Kokoda with adventures to the Mount Everest base camp (2009), the Hidden Annapurna Circuit Nepal in Nepal (2010), various treks in New Zealand (2011) and finally Bhutan (2012).

He says for him itas the challenge that makes it so special, of walking in isolated parts of the world that few people have ever been to. …

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