Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Win a stay in the oldest temple village in Nepal

I met the sweetest young woman from the Philippines who stayed with me prior to my moving to the guest house. She just posted her own spin on Changu and is even giving away a couple nights in my guest house.

Check out this blog post and see if you will win.

http://grasya.com/2014/03/win-a-free-stay-in-bhaktapur-nepal/

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Surprises in Nepal




Everyone knows trekking is the best on the planet in Nepal. It’s a great, cheap destination for people wanting to travel on a budget, volunteer, do spiritual retreats, etc. But there are a few surprises that I hope will put Nepal on the radar for you. Knowing what to expect will help you find your way around obstacles so you to enjoy Nepal more.



One of the first things I saw after arriving in Nepal was how many military personnel there were standing around just about everywhere I looked. They were in full combat gear, including SWAT shields and riffles. Being from the US, this was a disconcerting sight for me. They just looked like they were waiting for trouble to erupt. That was in December 2010 and as far as I know they are still waiting because I haven’t noticed much trouble. 

Nepal has come through some difficult times in the past decade or so, which brought a civil war and Maoists getting into power. They made a lot of promises, but it seems the people chose a more mild government this past November (2013) when they finally were able to vote.  
  

Another thing I noticed that really surprised me was how many women were serving as soldiers or police officers. There didn’t seem to be much of a problem with women being among their ranks.

Then I started noticing was how well society managed without much government oversight. It was like a US Republican dream come true. However, due to a very weak, ineffective government, the police department has become judge and jury at times. This has a fairly positive impact on tourists because a few rupees can usually hasten the solution. It isn’t necessarily always corruption. Often it can be for services rendered by a very underpaid government worker. 

You will shortly begin to notice that just about everything you would expect doesn’t happen the way you anticipated. Shopping malls and big Western style supermarkets are 20-40% more expensive than local vendors’ prices. I like to support the local people, anyway. 

You will hear Nepali friends tell you their wife or child had to go to the hospital and you will become concerned for them. Reality is that if you feel ill you should go to the hospital, not to a doctor’s office; It’s much cheaper. Tourists should ignore this advice and have a doctor come to their hotel room. Many doctors will come for well under $10. Here is a tip from my book: If you do get sick and need to go to the hospital don’t get there until at least 10:30. The Nepali, as I have observed, all get there when the clinic opens. By 11 am there is only one or two left in queue. I wrote a blog post about hospitals. 

Even though Nepal has the second best water supply on the planet, water is a big issue in Nepal. You will see 5 gallon, blue water jugs all over Nepal, as well as the one liter plastic bottles sold for around 20-60 NRs. per liter. Which to choose? Anyone in their right mind would automatically choose the sealed, plastic bottles, right? Surprisingly, you will discover that it is better to drink from the big blue jugs rather than the expensive, sealed, clear plastic bottles. Why? The blue jugs are regulated and inspected by the government. The sealed, individual bottles are not regulated and can come from India with no regulation. Even the wealthy Nepali avoid these bottles.


When I travel throughout Nepal, if I’m going to be in the same guest house for a few days I have the staff call to have a bottle delivered to the room. There is 350 NRs. deposit on the bottle but the water is only about 70 NRs. delivered to your room. Sometimes I just leave the bottle as a tip for the cleaning lady if I don’t have time to deal with it before leaving. You can even have the staff from one guest house carry it to the next one for just a few rupees. It isn’t the money or health benefits as much as the environmental impact that is my concern. 

Another surprise is if you try to be a savvy consumer and book your room before you arrive, you might find that you pay more than if you book the room at the airport and get a free taxi ride to the guest house. 

There were so many surprises like these that I’ve discovered in Nepal I wrote the eBook, Nepal: A Tourist’s Manual, and continue to blog about life here. It isn’t about earning a living from the book, but using whatever proceeds from the book to finance projects that will help Nepal in some way. I think there is information on the website about my projects, but my next goal is to start a beekeeping project.  

While at my embassy recently I met a young American woman who had lost her debit card and ID. I was very surprised because she was just turned away at the embassy. Yet, if she had bought my eBook she could have called me and I would have helped her to get her vacation back on track. You see, I actually have an interest in having tourists enjoy their time in Nepal and I enjoy helping them. Each book sale comes with an unconditional money-back guarantee and my phone number in case of a problem.

I hope you have learned a bit of what to expect in Nepal from this blog post. Please share one of your own surprises if you have been to Nepal. Check out my website at http://UnconventionalTourist.com

 



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Sometimes It’s Good to be Last

I’ve known I needed to find another place to live since last winter set in. The Nepali family that also lives in the building kept a draft going all day long. It’s culture and I’ve learned that’s one thing you just can’t argue. Then a couple of other ‘cultural’ issues arose and right on time, another perfect place to live came my way. I say another because no matter the cultural issue, I just couldn’t find another apartment that I like as well as this one. 

I decided I needed to rent an entire building so I could make sure it’s warm enough for me. Imagine it being a nice, winter’s day, but the apartment is colder than outside. That’s been the issue here since I moved in. 

Then one day my dear friend and Nepali son, Kamal, called to tell me he found an entire building for me. One problem with it is that it’s in Changunarayan, a village I knew had water issues. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the community has installed a reserve tank, so the water issue is as resolved as it can possibly be. That means they do still run out of water, just not so often. Bhaktapur and Kathmandu are the same. 

The other issue with Changu is regarding the location of the village itself. There is only one road to it and it’s a bit further from Kathmandu, which means an extra bus ride for tourists traveling by local bus. On the plus side, the energy is amazing there and there is a road being built from the other side. In a short year or two, I will have the first guest house tourists see in Changu. Changunarayan is the oldest temple in Nepal still in use. It’s being preserved and restored very nicely. The people in the village are Tamang and other indigenous castes that are laid back and kind. I enjoy all my Nepali friends of various castes, but I’ve noticed a few of the castes have an entitlement that causes a lack of respect toward tourists, even when their income is primarily from abroad. It doesn’t make sense to my inner psychologist. 

When I saw this building all my resistance was gone. Yes, there are a few functional issues to deal with, some bathrooms do not have sinks. I’ve stayed in buildings with the staircase coming up into the middle of the floor like this one, but the builder/owner will put doors on each floor to keep the draft out. I will invest in a good insulation product to keep the cold from coming up through the floor. So, issues dealt with. The guest house is located right at the edge of Changu Narayan Temple Village, just outside the Westgate of the Temple. 

Although newly constructed, the Shaman’s Way Guest House, as I will name it, blends quite well with the existing, ancient arctecture. It is built to withstand a category 9 earthquake and has such modern conveniences as Western toilets throughout. When you see construction like this you can be assured it’s rated to be earthquake safe. Nepal has a major earthquake every 75 years. Sure enough, in 2011 the big one came. Fortunately for me, since I was in Thamel at the time, Sikkim, Delhi and Islamabad took the worst of it. Thamel is not the place to be when an earthquake comes. 


Changunarayan Temple Village is an amazing step back in time and a person can spend hours just gazing out the living room window at the Himalayas off into the distance and local activity nearby. One of the things I love about my current apartment is the views of the lovely mountains. The view is even better from Changu, and this building than where I am now. What an incredible step up and I didn’t even know a step up was possible.



As you can see, we aren’t quite ready for our first guest, but it will be lovely. Each floor will have a common area for watching TV or just relaxing. There are only three rooms for guests on the two full floors with a suite and small room on the rooftop level, for a total of 8 guest rooms.

We will have a little kitchenette area where our guests can make a cup of coffee via our French press or our little Italian Moka style, tiny pot. We will not allow Nescafe on site. We’ll feature only Nepali Organic coffee and our guests are welcome to make it anytime. We will also have fruit and pastries in the mornings for guests who want to get started early. This area will be located on the landing at the stairs on both full floors between the large suite, guest room and the common living room. This will have a gas stove, coffee, assorted, organic teas, sugar, fruit and assorted breads. It will be self serve and all you want.


This is right out my front door, community land so no one will hide the magnificent views. I want to get some tents to rent for this area. 



There are some nice walking paths and a couple of trails will take you to Bhaktapur or Nagarkot by walking. They make for a great warm up trek.
 
Any inquiries for booking a room, please contact me at:
Amanda +977 984 993 0812 or at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com


Additional amenities at our guest house:
Yoga/Meditation room
On-site therapeutic massage room
Library of healing DVD’s
Library of Travel books for Nepal
 

Did you know I wrote an eBook filled with tips on getting the most out of your visit to Nepal?

Satisfaction Guaranteed: NO FINE PRINT. If you don't truly love Nepal: A Tourist’s Manual, please send for 100% money back. If you are not completely satisfied just send your purchase information along with a note to: FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com

Nepal: A Tourist’s Manual-For more information check out our website. If you enjoy this blog and the website you will enjoy the 299 page eBook. It is a well illustrated, easy read with over 1,000 tips to help you get the most out of Nepal.

http://www.unconventionaltourist.com/




This day was a bit hazy since it rained the night before.