Monday, January 22, 2018

Connecting Your Electronics in Nepal-What's Needed?

Many tourists purchase a universal adapter before leaving their home country, but is it really necessary? Also, I want to caution you about an important electrical issue. The answer to the first question is usually, not really. Although I have blown a random kitchen appliance, you do not need to spend a lot of money or even bring an adapter from home unless you have a unique product. In that case, you should contact the manufacturer to make sure. 

You can find these outlets for sale in most electrical shops, as well as multi-plugs/extension cords that will work just fine. How much will they cost? 300 NRs./$3 for the single, as above or up to 1,200/$12 for a good, quality extension cord. 

Even the outlets at the guest houses will be able to work for your mobile phone, small water heater for coffee/tea or your computer, no problem. 

One thing I will caution you about is regarding Chinese made electrical products. I had two electric cords attached to my rechargeable lamps to catch on fire. It may take an extra effort, but it's usually wiser to find something from India, or at the very least, get something 'branded' from China. 

As a side note, I had a funny experience with a rechargeable lamp. When I saw it on the street corner of a vendor I was so excited that I didn't care about the price. This was shortly after I had arrived in Nepal and was probably missing my own culture a bit. It was a familiar, American brand, Eveready. 

I took it home to use during the long winter nights of blackouts of 2011 and about a week later I was just looking at it and something didn't seem quite right about it. I started laughing at myself so hard as I read the brand again-Everday.  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Turn an off Day in Nepal into a Great Time

It happens. It happens a lot in Nepal. You have something scheduled; a sightseeing flight, a meeting, a group trek and it gets canceled or delayed. Or you buy the perfect scarf and when you get back to your guesthouse you tell someone how much you paid for it. "Oh, I thought you said 2,500 rupee," she laughs as she gives it a feel. You reply, "I did." 

What to do for the day when you just have to get out of the city? 

My new friend and guest at our guesthouse, Janet, and I spent a day to remember at one of the nicest parks in Nepal, the National Botanical Gardens of Nepal. Assessable by a bus from Lagankhel or micro-bus from Satdobato (districts in Kathmandu City), the National Botanical Garden is an unexpected treat for the day. Clean and so nicely manicured you'd almost think you're in Paris. It's just at the edge of Kathmandu, but it seems like you're way outside the city. I cannot imagine a taxi fee being more than $10.

The first thing I liked was the price, only 226 NRs. Everyone pays the same, Nepali and tourist alike. Most of the people there were Nepali and there were quite a few people this Saturday, young people on dates and families. As we walked around we even passed a movie set getting ready to shoot a scene. 

One thing that becomes clear is how lovely Asia is with its many varieties of flowers. Nepal, with its extreme elevation climb, is rife with flowers just about everywhere, so having an opportunity to see so many of these native flowers in their more natural habitat is quite interesting. I will never look at a lantana, poinsetia or Rhodendron in the same way again. 


We found this tropical building enjoyable. It was surprisingly cool for a green house, but the day was overcast and rained a bit while we were here. 

One thing that Janet and I both enjoyed seeing were these huge spiders in their webs that were strung between two trees. Janet caught this one with her IphoneIV. I wasn't so lucky.

As we passed this lake it started to rain, a quite nice, gentle rain. This Botanical Gardens is so big we got lost for a bit. They have bees and many interesting areas that have signs to explain about the different aspects of ecology.

As we were leaving we stopped for a cup of coffee and snack. Really impressive! The restaurant was inexpensive and had excellent food. Janet had a lasse with her organic coffee and I had paneer crapes. All together, it was only $4, clean and well prepared. They even had a not-so-scary toilet. 

One of the things that interested me was the trash recepticles and signs. I want to put similar signage in Changunarayan and trash cans. We put about 10 wicker baskets with iron supports, but when I saw these cans I decided to make something more like these.

We really had a nice day and when we got almost up the hill to Changunarayan we drove into a hail storm. I felt bad for our driver because he has a brand new car, but it didn't seem to do any harm. 

Each leaf in this cactus garden had a message on it. It was a nice way to express oneself. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sometimes You Can Help More if You Don't Dip Into Your Own Pocket

Yes, we have a donation link fairly prominently displayed on our websites and most of our social media. I’m not saying getting a pledge or notice from Paypal that we have money isn’t wonderful. It is and we appreciate that kind of thing so much. In fact, a kind supporter in New Zealand wrote an article for an online journal and got it published. She sent us the entire amount as a donation, so wonderful. But what's more remarkable about Kerensa is that she has put us in contact with other kind hearted people who came to help us and sent us money. We are so grateful.

But so many people do not have $50-100 to donate to a random NGO in a developing nation where the money will never be returned to them in any form of good, other than supporting a random NGO. You may be surprised to learn there is little to no oversight into the spending practices of NGO’s in Nepal, as I’m sure is true elsewhere. I’ve seen many examples of people donating money or clothing and it all goes only to the social worker’s family. The ‘orphan’ children never see a nice clean jacket; who wants to send money to kids who are clean, well-fed and educated? No, dirty, underweight kids will do the trick. 

Whether it be famine, war, earthquake or hurricane, the poor are always disproportionately affected. Nepal is no exception and after the earthquakes hit in 2015 and then subsequently, the embargo from India, the Nepali have been through a lot. What to do to help? 

It is our wish that you support the Nepal Handcraft and artists that work in the old, traditional styles. By this, I mean to ask you to change your shopping habits a bit and buy directly from Nepali or other indigenous merchants. 

Tibetan refugee making carpet
Many years ago, I remember seeing a beautiful, hand-carved wooden statue so detailed it’s still vivid in my mind. As the merchant explained, the artist traveled all the way from Ivory Coast to South Africa by walking and sleeping on the road for several months.  Even after all that workmanship and effort the piece was hardly $200 in the small retail store in SE Florida.

Our agency, Kay Garnay for Nepal, has begun a computer class to teach the Changunarayan villagers how to make affiliate marketing websites through our account at Wealthy Affiliate. This is a platform that teaches this skill in just a month or so and the students will be able to earn extra money, depending on the support of their website visitors. Incidentally, Kay Garnay means ‘What to do?’ and that is exactly our mission to find things to do to help Nepal, particularly our village. 

So far, we have been marketing thanka art and hand-carved wooden masks for over 4 years. I’m proud to say we have not had an unresolved complaint--people have been more than kind, but we also work to satisfy our customers within their timeline. 

I’d love for you to purchase a thanka from our website if that kind of décor is of your liking. If not, there is the Tibetan Carpet Initiative, singing bowl manufacturers and more. It’s also a great way to reach out elsewhere to the displaced Syrian refugees. Just buy Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, birthday, anniversary and Christmas gifts from such places. One word of caution for Americans, if you support Islamic initiatives be prepared to find yourself on no-fly lists and such, so be sure to do the research unless you are ready to pay the consequences. 

To help you to understand what I mean I’d like you to consider this: As I mentioned, we have been selling Nepali art for over 4 years. After selling a Tibetan, Buddhist style thanka or hand-carved mask to a random person in NYC, US and delivering it to an actual residence, we got a notice from Paypal to please send them verification of this person’s date of birth. Note that the thanka had already been paid for and delivered without incident months before with a credit card on our merchant account platform, not Paypal. Can you imagine getting an email 6 months after you purchased a product in a developing nation asking for your personal information? We surrendered our Paypal account rather that asking.  

Soon we will have several affiliate marketing sites of companies we believe you can trust and excellent content and products for your shopping pleasure. If you are currently supporting an NGO in a developing nation that has access to computers and WIFI you can send them this link or tag them on social media and encourage them to give such an endeavor a try. We will put their link on our website and help in any way we can to promote these grassroots agencies, regardless as to where they are.

Most importantly, when you buy products from the merchants or initiatives like we have everyone wins. You get great products and services and we pay salaries, support women’s equality and keep the lion’s share of the money in Nepal. In fact, other than international banking or internet fees, all the money goes to help people at the grassroots level.  

Happy shopping:
Examples of Nepali handicrafts: 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Star View High Protein Pancakes

This may not be the perfect place to post this recipe, but our volunteers, Neomie and Quintin from France made the video, which you can see here: Our High Protein Pancakes Video

This is the recipe I usually make when our guests are leaving us to go trekking. I like to send them off with a little extra vitamin and protien. These are high-protein with a mixture of whole grains, fruit and nuts. We can also make them vegan style because the flax seeds and banana are both egg substitutes; I think the egg makes it have a better texture. We also offer these with an egg or two on top, served all-you-can-eat.


Star View High Protein Pancakes
In a small pot combine:
2 cups water
5 T cracked wheat
5 T flax seed.
2 T sugar (if desired)
Bring to a boil, cover and cook on low for 5 minutes. Take off heat and leave it covered until it’s cooled down so it’s just warm to the touch (approximately 30 minutes).

While that is cooling, in a large bowl mix together:
1 egg
1 mashed ripe banana
1 cup milk
1 cup water
5 T melted coconut oil, butter or other oil
Add the flax mixture to these ingredients, mix with whisk and add:
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 t turmeric
1 T cinnamon
Mix well with whisk and then add while continuing to whisk:
 ½ cup millet flour (or other whole grain flour)
½ cup whole wheat flour
½-1 cup white flour
Add milk or water, as needed, to make a medium thickness batter- about like cake batter.
½ cup raisins

1 cup mixed chopped nuts/seeds: peanuts, watermelon seed, walnuts or other chopped nuts. Be sure to check the nuts for rocks and other debris, if needed.
Heat griddle till a drop of water sizzles and evaporates right away. Lightly grease griddle with your favorite oil or non-stick spray or use a combination of butter and oil. The oil will prevent to butter from burning.
Pour batter from large spoon onto lightly greased griddle and adjust heat to medium. Cook pancakes until bubbles pop and pancakes begin to brown, about 2 minutes. Flip to brown on other side, about another minute. 

Serve with honey, sliced banana and peanut butter, jelly or jam, as desired.

Friday, May 26, 2017

French experiment in Changu Narayan ✌

Perché à environ 1700m d'altitude et classé au patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO, Changu est une charmante cité à seulement 20km de Katmandou et domine la vallée de Bhaktapur.
Il est donc extrêmement simple de venir quelques jours se reposer dans ce village après avoir fait un des nombreux treks ou tout simplement pour quitter la folie du quartier touristique Thamel !

Pour s'y rendre il suffit de se rendre à pied à la station de bus Ratnapark à quelques minutes de Thamel et ensuite de prendre un bus direction Bhaktapur pour seulement 30 roupies (35centimes d'€).
Le bus vous dépose dans le village en bas de la colline et il restedonc encore quelques kilometres pour atteindre la cité classé UNESCO! Deux choix s'offrent à vous, le stop (en moins de 2 minutes quelqu'un s'arrêtera) ou prendre un autre bus.
Une fois arrivé en haut vous pouvez enfin admiré le paysage et apprécié le calme de ce petit paradis. Une entrée de 300 roupies (- de 3€) vous sera demandée pour accéder aux portes de la ville !

Voici quelques conseils pour séjourner facilement dans ce haut lieu de tranquillité.

-Le logement-

Star view guesthouse est un vrai coup de coeur ! ❤

Amanda, la maître des lieux, est une vraie perle et de très bons conseils pour jouir de votre séjour. Une famille népalaise vit avec elle et est aux petits soins avec ses invités. Pour quelques euros vous avez le droit à un lit king size dans une chambre avec vue sur les montagnes et une salle de bain commune neuve! Un petit déjeuner copieux composé d'oeufs, de toasts, de miel, de porridge, de thé et de café est compris dans le prix de la nuit.

La compagnie des enfants qui viennent chaque soir profiter de la ludothèque de la guest house est bien sympa! On joue, on lit, on mange de la pastèque ! 😄

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-La santé-


Il arrive parfois qu'on se sente barbouillé avec la nourriture népalaise. Heureusement pour nous, à Changu on y trouve tous ce que l'on souhaite ! En effet, en plein coeur du village une pharmacie s'y dresse fièrement. Aprés quelques explications de vos maux, un remède, un médicaments ou encpre un conseil vous sera donné ! L'avantage ici c'est le prix des médicaments ! Pour une tourista carrabiné il faut compter moins de 5€ et 24H pour s'en remettre. 💊
<-- p="">
<-- p="">Il y a un hôpital à Bhaktapur avec centre ophtalmologique, médecine générale, radio, laboratoire, etc...
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<-- p="">-La restauration-
<-- p="">
<-- p="">Le choix est multiple ! 
<-- p="">
<-- p="">A starview, il est bien sûr possible de manger de bons petits plats ! C'est un régal, les produits sont frais et de qualité ! Ils proviennent du marché du village et les légumes poussent par milliers sur cette terre fertile. De plus, vous éviterez tout risque de tourista avec certitude ! 
<-- p="">
🍕🍕🍕 On peut également passer une excellente soirée à la farm house un tout petit peu plus bas dans le village. Ce restaurant a son propre four à pizza et c'est un bonheur pour les papilles ! Ce four a été construit par les habitants avec l'aide d'un italien qui y séjourne plusieurs mois par an. 🍕🍕🍕

! Vegetarian pizza !

<-- p="">
<-- p="">                                       <-- p="">

-Les habitants-

🎵Y'a d'la joie,
Bonjour, bonjour les hirondelles🎵

Il suffit de rester quelques jours et de parler avec les habitants et une complicité s'installe rapidement. Ils racontent humblement leurs histoires et vous invite chez eux pour découvrir leur quotidien autour d'une tasse de thé. 🍵

Ou autour d'une bière ! Ce jeune de tout juste 27 ans est revenu il y a 3 ans de Dubaï, où il y a passé 10 ans pour essayer de gagner un peu d'argent...

-Le bonheur a un visage-


Après le tremblement de terre de 2015 qui a détruit la plupart des habitations et fait des milliers de vitcimes, les népalais se reconstruisent et ont le courage depuis deux ans déjà pour rebâtir leurs maisons et les édifices de leur village.

 Ici le temple qui se (re)dresse fierement en plein coeur de la cité.

-Le village-

Les photos valent mieux que des mots pour démontrer la beauté et la tranquillité de ce village dominant la vallée de Katmandou.


Que faire en dehors de Changu?
Déjà on compte une à deux journée pour visiter cette petite cité. Ensuite si vous êtes venus vous reposer, une semaine au total c'est vraiment le mieux pour déconnecter et apprécier l' instant présent. Si vous êtes un peu plus pressés dans votre planning 3 jours c'est bien pour explorer les environs ! 👍

◇ les temples ◇

Il faut facilement une demi-journée pour faire le tour de tous les temples de cette ville. Si on devait déterminer la spiritualité d'une ville par le nombre de ses temples,Bhaktapur serait hautement mystique !!!

♤ et pourquoi pas une ballade à vélo? ♤

Mais oui!
Un peu de sport, surtout que la descente donne de bonnes sensations !
Star view guesthouse dispose de quelques très bons vtts, parfait pour remonter les 300m de dénivelé sans trop de difficulté !

 《Street Art》

La culture de blé en escalier habille la vallée et la colline.

Avec les vtt c'est facile et rapide de découvrir la ville située dans la vallée. On se ballade sur les lacets et on admire simplement le paysage. Avant de remonter n'hésitez pas, pour vous donner du courage, à déguster une salade de fruit frais pour 40 roupies (45cents d'€).

♧ water fall ♧

Pour les courageux il faut compter 1h de vélo pour se rendre à ce parc national, sinon quelques minutes de bus suffiront.

♡ Treking ♡

Et là c'est pour les amoureux de la nature !
De nombreux guides n'attendent que vous à Changu! Il est important de prendre un guide pour profiter pleinement des sentiers, des paysages et des petits villages sans prendre le risque de se perdre ou de se blesser.

Un contact d'un guide qui propose de multitude de treks sympa qui travaille avec plusieurs guides du village.

Khapil Phokarel
Kapil Pokharel facebook

Voilà, n'hésitez pas à contacter (en anglais) Amanda pour plus d'informations !
Twitter : frugaltravelsnepal ou starview guesthouse

Petite vidéo des environs pour vous donner envie de découvrir ce petit coin de paradis: