When I was a young boy growing up in Canada, I dreamed of seeing the world. Like many people, I wanted to see the big cities of Europe, marvel at the great pyramids of Giza, go on safari in Africa, and of course visit Mount Everest. I thought I would see all of these places by the time I was 30. I was 34 when I went to Nepal for the first time in 2012 at the invitation of the Himalayan Trust. I was in the country for two months and had an amazing experience, one I’d never forget.
I’ve been on a few expeditions myself, and I’ve always loved the camaraderie that comes with traveling in foreign lands. In fact, my trip to Nepal last year was the most memorable of my life. I not only got to touch the sacred stones of the Kathmandu valley, but got to know local people in a whole new way. Nepal is a beautiful country, and the people who live there are warm, kind, and welcoming. It’s hard to describe in words, but my trip was so special because it was so much more than just seeing the sights.
Ed will shortly be in Tokyo for the Paralympics as a commentator (Picture: Matt Kelly)
Ed Jackson, a former professional rugby player, sustained a severe spinal cord injury in 2017.
He was rendered quadriplegic and told he would never be able to walk again.
Since then, he has made a remarkable recovery and has channeled his drive into climbing mountain summits and traveling the globe.
Ed tells us about an amazing Fleetwood Mac performance in NYC, ‘chewy’ chicken feet in Borneo, and doing his part to give back to Nepal as an explorer and motivational speaker.
What is your favorite road trip memory?
In 2017, I flew to New York after recovering from a three-month stay in the hospital after a spinal cord injury.
My friends had banded together to purchase tickets for us to see Fleetwood Mac, my favorite band, at Citi Field in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, even though I was still in a wheelchair.
Taking the train in a wheelchair was fascinating but also eye-opening since I now understand what it’s like for wheelchair users and will never take my legs for granted again.
We secured accessible front-row seats to the show before going to the Meatpacking District to stay at Soho House (rooms start at £335).
Ed was in the first row of a Fleetwood Mac concert in New York City (photo courtesy of Kevin Kane/Getty Images for Scoop Marketing).
What about your favorite city?
Kathmandu. Nepal is one of my favorite countries, and I’ve spent a lot of time there. You’re in a totally different world as soon as you exit the airport.
It’s so loud and crowded that it totally overpowers your senses. We usually stay in the Thamel area, which is a lot of fun and has a lot of pubs and restaurants.
The graffiti on the walls left by decades of tourists and climbers reads like love poems to Nepal, and Sam’s Bar is a particular favorite.
Swayambhunath Stupa, also known as the Monkey Temple, is a must-see. It not only has stunning views of the city, but the monkeys will take your belongings if you leave them on display and refuse to return them unless you give them food.
In Nepal, there are a lot of cheeky monkeys (Picture: Getty Images)
When were you most terrified when traveling?
Tenzing–Hillary Airport, often known as Lukla Airport, is located in Lukla. It is located on a hillside surrounded by Himalayan mountains and features one of the world’s shortest runways, which is very steep to guarantee you can gather up enough speed before take-off since there is nothing but a cliff at either end.
It was scary flying in there last year before climbing Mera Peak. We had no way of knowing what would happen. We placed our whole trust in the pilot.
Flying out of Tenzing–Hillary Airport in the Himalayas is a nerve-wracking event (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)
What is the greatest memento you’ve brought back from your trip?
During a visit there last year, I assisted one of our Nepalese guides in establishing a trekking business.
Every time I go on an expedition, my wife chastises me for bringing things home, and I’m fairly sure she didn’t expect me to return with a whole business, but it has provided employment for many people in the area, so it’s extremely gratifying.
What is the greatest life-changing event you’ve had while traveling?
In Nepal, I went to see a spinal unit for the first time.
One of our goals as a charity is to collect funds for the construction of a new spinal facility in Chitwan, since after spending three months in a spinal hospital in the UK, I was astounded by the facilities available there.
Despite the fact that there were patients on the floor and holes in the ceiling, everyone remained surprisingly cheerful despite their situation.
It really struck me, and it’s what spurred me on to try to help those who haven’t been as fortunate as me.
What’s the worst meal you’ve ever eaten while traveling?
I went on a jungle trip in Borneo with my wife and several friends. We lived with tribes that had only seen white people once or twice, so it was a wonderful experience, but the cuisine was suspect.
I recall being relieved to find chicken on the menu and being pleased that it was something I was familiar with, but then a dish came with three pairs of claws sticking out from the top – chicken feet.
I didn’t want to be impolite, so I tried to chew through the gristle as best I could, but it’s not something I’d want to do again.
Some ‘questionable’ meals were part of a Borneo hiking trip (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)
What are your plans for the future?
I’m heading to Japan to join Channel 4’s Paralympics presenting crew. I’m excited to visit Tokyo and eat a lot of sushi.
Millimetres To Mountains, Ed Jackson’s charity, utilizes exploration and adventure to assist those with mental health issues.
On Thursday, his new book, Lucky: From Tragedy to Triumph One Step at a Time, will be released.
Do you have a story to tell?
Send an email to [email protected] to get in touch.
Olivia Breen, a paralympian for Team GB, was left speechless when her sprint briefs were deemed “too short and unsuitable.”
MORE: This summer, you might earn free hotel stays and a £2,000 income if you evaluate hotels.
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