The thrill of travelling in Nepal isn't about all the things it might very easily be about for me. It isn't about those impossible boiling masses of white mountains and the moment when, searching through the clouds for a glimpse of them, I realize I'm not looking high enough. The moment when I tip my head back and see the appalling crenellations of ridges, the tearing peaks and gleaming glaciers, floating improbably far above.
The thrill of Nepal isn't about standing alone by a jungle river, ears bent and hackles aloft for the rustle of rhino – or worse – and wondering when or if my guide will return. It isn't about sitting in a smoky backroom washing down spiced goat with local spirits that I fear may soon be making my stomach lurch with sickness. Nor is it about when I flailed around lost in glacial moraine, all my energy and confidence and heart sucked away by the insidious thinness of the air at altitude.
What thrills and frightens me about travelling in Nepal is the incredible way it lets me see, touch and smell what feels like history. When you've grown up in a ‘mature democracy' like the UK's - where the government and the institutions seem unshakeably well-bedded down on their foundations and there are roads and lights and signposts everywhere - you don't often feel the living pulse of history. In Nepal that pulse is hammering away at a feverish tempo; change is happening so fast that the country is tumbling over itself, and taking cuts and bruises and even serious injuries along its way.