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

 



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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.


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