Saturday, August 10, 2013

Everyday Suprises in Nepal

One of the biggest unanswered questions for me before I left home was what does a person do when they are thousands of miles from family and friends? How would I fit in and what would I do? This blog post is about a day in the life of an expat just to show you how life goes on here and you can build a lovely life with as much love and family as you need. 
My helper left me a couple weeks ago, after helping himself to a dip or two-no big deal. I didn't mind the little loss of a few rupee as much as having to search again for a domestic helper. I liked him, and like his name, he was really Some Thing! He cooked, he cleaned and he smiled as though he liked his job. But alas! he moved on and now I have No Thing.  

So my laundry had been piling up. Kamal, my dear friend/son from Changu Narayan was kind enough to bring his daughter, Bimila age 15, to do my laundry for me and his son, Kiran age 9. But I had to go to Kathmandu so I left them here alone. What amazing, sweet, dear children they are, too. She did wonderfully in spite of the monsoon.

I have a dear friend staying with me right now, Jayaram. He is about as honest as they come, and a big help since Some left. He had been telling me about the lovely hotel he started working for so he took me to see it while the kids were doing my laundry. 

I was really impressed by this hotel. I wanted to write about it because of all the negativity on my part about guest house/hotel owners. I've had some very interesting experiences getting cheated by guest house owners, everything from putting alcoholic drinks on the bill to no hot water. This is always blamed on 'a large group of Chinese tourists that all got up and left for trekking already.' By the way, if I were a Chinese tourist they would surely blame it on a huge group of Americans. 

As we were waiting for the bus I caught two young tourists dressed very inappropriately. The one that got away wore a long, very shear dress with a slit almost all the way up her leg. The one I managed to capture here had nothing under this sweater. Please dress modestly anywhere outside of Thamel.
Please dress responsibly!
Then, as we waited for the bus to leave I had another interaction that I'd like to share with you. Although I have a fairly huge, usually bleeding heart, I feel very strongly that tourists should not, must not support the begging industry. This day one came to the bus window and wouldn't leave me alone. I finally said, a bit too loudly, "Poisa chhina!" which means I have no money.

I know it can be hard, but we need to resist this temptation to drop a rupee into the beggars' can. Why? Because not only can 50 rupees into a beggar's can do nothing to help, please believe me when I say it does a lot of harm and it encourages others to do venture into the begging business. I ran into this woman and baby on my last trip to Kathmandu:
No mother would do this to her own baby
 How could anyone walk past a hungry baby without doing something? Well, if you feel compelled to do something I'd suggest taking the baby to a detox clinic. They rent these babies during nap time at best, and give them heroine or vodka at worst. You think they are asleep when in reality they are drugged. It breaks my heart.

So, onto happier times. Jayaram's new hotel was really worth the trip. At first I wasn't so sure because there is some road construction in the area, but as we walked up the street to the hotel I began to notice how quiet it was, not a dog, horn or loud industrial noise. Behind the gate was such a lovely surprise. The first thing you will see is the kitchen for the restaurant. I think I said, "Oh my God!" out loud. The kitchen, at 12:00 pm was cleaner than my own in Bhaktapur! If you haven't been to Nepal yet, I assure you that this is an uncommon occurrence.  They also have a huge conference room and all the business amenities you'd expect from a Hotel that caters to business clients.
Immaculately clean kitchen
I found the property to be quite amazing from that point on. The rooms were huge with TV's and WIFI and many had attached patios. Some have full kitchens and all have attached baths-and the bathrooms have shower curtains! I haven't seen a shower curtain for about 3 years. There was even a nice, common living room area where a person could sit and meet other guests. Each of the rooms were different, but well laid out. Desks, closets and plenty of floor space, but most of all, really clean! They also have a very nice room for a disabled person. That room even had an extra bed for your personal care worker and lots of floor space for a wheel chair. Guest houses and hotels are increasing their prices as money rates fluctuate and inflation causes prices to only going one way-up. But this one has many of them beat with the price point starting at $25 for an air conditioned room! They usually increase the price of the room by $20 if you want air conditioning.

Many of the rooms have patios
The Royal Astoria Hotel is near the Lazimpat area, the US embassy, Monkey Temple, a lovely forest with a lookout tower and many other things in the area to see and do. 

My suggestion if you are concerned about bedbugs and stomach issues would be to stay here for your first couple of days, at least. They can arrange airport pick up. Then if you would like to explore other areas of the Valley the owner, Nagendra, or Jayaram Giri, who works with the guests there, can help you finalize your plans. This building is over 10 years old, but looks like it's brand new.Even the walls are clean.
Community living room area
 
These glasses in the room are wrapped
Swoyambhunath Temple in the background
Huge room with air conditioning, standard in all rooms
These photos are from the
Royal Astoria, GPO Box 981, Bansbari, Hattiguanda, Kathmandu, Nepal. 
Call from home: 00977 1 4372884,  00977 1 4376845, Call after you get here: 01 4372884,  01 4376845. 
Email: astoria@mos.com.np, Website: http://astoria-hotel.com
Nagendra Bhandari, owner: 9851 022447.
Jayaram Giri, Guest Services: 9803 760565.

Please let them know that you read about them here, but know I do not take a commission. 

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