Straits Times 13 Oct 2009
Romance in the Rough
By Tan Yi Hui
For some newlyweds, honeymoons are all about having an adrenalin rush in a rugged environment.
When climbing a mountain in Nepal last year, Ms Alice Giam was floored by altitude sickness. A ruggedly handsome Nepalese man who was on the same trekking team carried her on their two-hour journey back to the safety of the base camp.
She was so moved that she would have married him right there and then if he had asked. Only thing was, she was already married to him. Ms Giam and Mr Narayan Shrestha was on their honeymoon.
For most people, honeymoons mean romance and relaxation but there are adventurous couples who literally venture off the beaten path, looking for an adrenalin rush or a rugged experience to mark their marriage.
So why do some newlyweds rough it out? Mostly, it is because they share a love for the outdoors.
Mr Shrestha runs a trekking agency in his country and met Ms Giam when she signed up for one of his tours.
On a misty mountain path more than 4000m above sea level, Ms Giam is decked out in trekking gear as she stands firm in the chilly wind. It is her third day waiting for her husband to return from Island Peak, a 6190m summit in the Himalayas in Nepal.
Finally, familiar shapes appear through the mist. She strains to see if he is among the trekkers and spots him in his red jacket. She runs to embrace him, almost tripping over rocks in sheer relief and joy.This reunion scene straight out of a Hollywood movie was the highlight of the couple’s honeymoon last year.
They met two years ago on a trekking trip in Nepal. Ms Giam, a Singaporean, was a first-time mountain climber and her guide was her future husband.
Mr Shrestha, a Singaporean permanent resident, runs a trekking agency based in Nepal and Singapore.They got married last year and went on an 18-day trip to scale Island Peak. Such a trip costs about $3600 a person, including airfare from Singapore, but the couple paid only a fraction of the price because they went with their own agency.
Ms Giam quit her events planning job to join her husband’s company after the wedding.She says:” We went on a few trekking trips when we were dating, but I’m not as strong as he is and I do get altitude sickness. Two weeks before the honeymoon, I had nightmares about it. But he had been wanting to tackle the peak and since we were married, we thought, why not do it together? If I had backed out, it would have spoilt the mood.”
Sure enough, at 5000m above sea level, altitude sickness hit her. She could have descended to safety of the base camp with escorts, but Mr Shrestha insisted on carrying her down himself – a two-hour trek – before resuming his journey towards the summit.
Chuckling fondly at the memory, Ms Giam says:” Somehow, I felt like, oh, I chose the right husband.” She waited anxiously for three days for his return.
As his birthday fell on one of those days, she had prepared an apple pie for him. Laid out in candy on the pie were the words “Happy Birthday, Deepak”.
Accommodation throughout consisted of Spartan trekkers’ lodgings with “wooden walls so thin you could hear the person next door snoring”.
But Ms Giam says:” Romance doesn’t have to be about lying on the beach. It’s about the little things that you do for each other on a trip.”
She and Mr Shrestha are not done yet. They intend to hit a new high when they have children one day.
Says Ms Giam:” We’ll take our kids to Everest.”