Monday, February 25, 2013

Earning an Income to Support Your Travels to Nepal -Or to Another Developing Nation



Earning an Income to Support Your Travels to Nepal
Or to Another Developing Nation

I host a lot of young travelers. They seem to be so in love with the world it is reassuring to see these future leaders as works in progress. They are so amazing to spend time with. 

I get questions all the time about how to travel without using up all your savings. First of all, I need to assure you that it is not an easy thing for most people to do, but if you can find your niche it will perhaps make your savings last a bit longer. Some people have found ways to survive abroad for extended times by using a bit of cunning, discretion and hard work. Here are a few things that you might want to consider doing to this end, or perhaps they will help you to think of something else. 

Your first step needs to be to take a good look at your own skills, talents, abilities, education and interests. The days of showing up to teach English for pay or to get a work visa is not necessarily going to work in many countries. Nepal does not give priority for work visas for teaching English anymore and if you wanted to land a job like this you need serious credentials, most likely a college degree and a teaching certificate. However, there are still countries that allow English speakers to teach with a Toefl Certificate in lieu of more education, but these are becoming fewer every year. Sometimes jobs with fewer requirements can be found in international schools or religious organizations. Getting a work visa in Nepal is difficult and working on a tourist visa is a BIG deal here. I strongly recommend against it.

Teaching Certificate If you have the teaching certificate you could possibly tutor for rich people. These jobs would be not quite legal which would put you in a precarious position, possibly. If you come to a country such as Nepal you can get into plenty of problems if you work on a tourist visa. Work exchanges for room and board only are marginal, but usually not a problem.

Even if you do not have a college degree you can come to Nepal and do a work stay in a remote village as an English or possibly art teacher. Perhaps you could go on a trek and ask at some of the villages. Any of them would be proud to have you.

If you have a degree in computer science, environmental studies, political science, nursing or public health you are likely to be able to get excellent, international pay in many countries. INGOs (nonprofit agencies with an international presence) hire internationally and can pay an excellent wage. And of course there are cruise ships. 

But everyone knows these things. I have a few more tips from my own bag of tricks to get you out of the old, established parts of the world and into places like Nepal where you can be a bit more free spirited. 

Volunteer/Work Stay- I cannot believe what a scam this is for young people. Never pay to volunteer. You do not need to. You can find many places to do a work exchange. I saw one French woman on her knees doing laundry for a dozen ‘orphans’ who have one or both living parents. These ‘volunteers’ come here and actually pay to do this grunt work. In my mind, a local house cleaner/maid would be much more appropriate. There are many women who truly need to work to care for their families. Please do not pay to take her job. Agencies that have offices in the West charge $500 to 1,000 Euro per month to volunteers who take jobs from local people. 

WOOFING/helpx.net and other work-stay web sites. Many in the WOOFING community are charging tourists to come to work in Nepal. I have heard the same thing of the helpx.net community. These programs can send very bad messages to the children who grow up to see tourists as no more than walking dollars/Euros. The message goes something like this: White people are different. They don't get tired when they work and they never run out of money. This message has greatly contributed to the lack of work ethic here in Nepal, as I see it. 

Offer to bring something from the West After deciding on Nepal as my end destination I began to miss a few of my most treasured possessions that I still had stored in the US. I offered a couple months of free room and board for bringing these things. Both items would have been very expensive to send, due to one being a computer that would have a huge tariff and the other was an antique. The antique could have even been confiscated or stolen via mail and surely would have had a tariff. There are many things a person could purchase in the West to bring for other expats. Posting on a message board could bring you some nice offers.

Working with local merchants to import products to your country- This can work well if you keep everything on a business level, but never pay in advance for products, deposit yes, but full pay never. There are paper companies, Thanka painting schools and shops, jewelry makers, textile and a host of other businesses you can work with if you are very careful to do things right. Many tourists have been cheated out of a lot of money in this way so you will need to take legal precautions.  Just like in the West, always follow up on ‘hand shake’ agreements with written contracts and never let them tell you an attorney is wasted money. 

Never export food products from a developing nation unless you know what you are doing. Many crates sit on the docks until they can be sent back and the investor is the one who loses. However, you can list the products for the merchant online and never make a purchase until it is sold. There are several websites that provide excellent platforms for this type of business. Amazon has a program, as does Etsy.com and many others. Of course you could also do auctions on Ebay and when an item sells you could take it from the store to mail it. One recent tourist bought some cloth backpacks in Bhaktapur for 300 NRs. and put them on eBay. He sold all 5 of them at around 25 euro each.

One young person I know had a high quality suit tailor-made to take back home. She had the tailor teach her how to measure and then put an ad on Craiglist.org. She goes to measure the person for the suit, puts in the order and earns enough to buy a custom tailored suit for herself or as income. She uses this money as her traveling fund. Imagine being able to tuck a little money away each month for travel.

Journalism Visa-If you are a good writer you can obtain a Journalism visa. The way you would do this would be to write a few articles for a local newspaper. Then you would create a portfolio of the articles and get a letter from the publisher that states they will publish articles from you. Be sure to check with the country’s embassy for more details. You can also check with the consulate in your country to find out how to go about this. 

Work restaurants and hotels- I knew a woman who stayed long term at guest houses in Nepal by offering to list their property online and teach them how to manage it. She did a work exchange for the stay but the food wasn’t included. This is not a good plan unless they give you deep discounts in food from the hotel’s restaurant. This needs to be ‘under the table’ and if a problem comes you will not be able to call the authorities without causing more problems for yourself. If you tell on them they will surely tell that you were working on a visitor visa. There are not only heavy fines, but often prison time, as well.

I was offered a position to just show up and play with the kids at a private school so the parents would see a native English speaker for bragging rights. If it were a free room and board exchange it would have been a safe option. In fact, if a native English speaker just wanted to stay in the country he/she could easily do a work exchange in the remote villages. 

Nanny-There are many rich people here who would love to have an English speaking nanny. Seriously, be very careful that you do not become exploited.

Meteorite hunting- Do you know how to tell if a rock is from outer space? If you do, you can go trekking and be on the lookout for meteorites. As you may know, meteor showers occur quite often. Most fragments burn up before reaching land, but at 5,000-6,000 meters high many fragments actually survive impact. Meteorites sell for $2-25 per gram, so there can be a substantial possibility for some income or sport. 

Bring something from your county- I know one young man who is establishing a Texas Hold-em night at a local guest house where he is surely staying for free. There are also garage sales/farmers' markets going on now in Kathmandu. 

Be cautious-I’ve found the police to be helpful and kind most of the time, but I am sure the horns would come out rather quickly if you were to cause anyone a problem on a questionable plan. Know that if you chose to do something that is risky you should expect to be exploited a bit, and you will not be able to complain much. I understand there are many tourists in jail in developing nations who have visa violations, get in trouble for drugs or who have run out of money. 

Always work on your plan before leaving by checking with both embassies to make sure your plan is either legal or a marginal infraction. Make connections prior to coming, but never send money to anyone before you meet them. Seriously, people in developing nations believe you can never run out of money so they do not mind taking advantage of you. They reason that they just need it more so it’s OK. 

For more suggestions take a look at this post. Although many of the suggestions will not apply to Nepal, it may help you to think of other possibilities.

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.


Visit my website: Nepal: A Tourist's Manual

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chitwan-It's not Kathmandu!



Chitwan seemed like the most laid back place on the planet. We would be sitting at an open air restaurant having milk tea or a meal when we would see an elephant walk by like it was no big deal. It was something that made the entire atmosphere somehow 'unworldly' to me. How does an elephant just walk down the street? My brain couldn't adjust to a reality where elephants bathe in the river only a few hundred meters from where you sit having dinner. 

The people were very nice and friendly. Both of the tour operators we got to know seemed quite honest. We were disappointed with the food situation and joked about Chitwan being a 'dieter's paradise.' We only found a couple of places throughout our stay that served food I could actually finish. 

We spoke with two tour guides that impressed us. Both claimed to recognize over two hundred birds by sight or sound. Sure enough, both of these men would stop talking mid sentence to identify a bird for us, and then continue his sentence without losing a beat. I had never seen so many kinds of birds. I watched one bird with amazement as it stopped mid flight and then dove head first into the river. 

We found a couple of well priced guest houses along the river, which was a nice surprise (from 400 NRs. with attached bath). One of the workers at the first guest house told us a rhino had walked through the middle of the property the night before we arrived. We heard jungle sounds all night long from our room and we walked freely home at night without fear of assault. Although we exercised normal precautions, we didn't feel any abnormal fear. I actually found the people to as honest as people in Kathmandu or Bhaktapur, or at least more down-to-earth.  

Something happened on the first morning that could have potentially ruined our trip. After waking up and feeling fine I turned wrong and my back locked up. How I missed Dr. Sykes, my chiropractor from Fort Pierce, Florida. There are actually no chiropractors to be found in Nepal, so I took full responsibility for my health. I had the guest house owner send out to get a back brace and a massage therapist. I rested for the day while Genae went on a bird watching, nature walk.   

Back to me; there I was in so much pain just to move. I explicitly told the owner that I wanted a therapeutic massage, not the other variety. And that is where the story starts to get comical. The young man was darling, with big brown eyes, not that it mattered. So as I lie there on my belly, he begins the massage. "Oh, nice cell phone," he says as he sees my mobile on the bed. "Oh, two SIM cards! I am looking for a phone like that. How much to sell it to me?" I explained that not only was it not for sale, but I would be cheating him if I sold it; it wasn't working well. He went on about the phone until I actually got annoyed enough to mention it to him. 

The massage was decent and I felt like it might have begun to help. Then the hand got placed in a place much too private for a first time encounter. Now it made sense about the phone. It was time to roll over, so I told him we were finished. "Don't you want to wash your hands?" I asked him as he was leaving. No, he didn't. He called me three more times to see when I wanted to schedule the next massage. One the third call I explained to him that I did not want him touching me because he didn't use professional boundaries, not to mention hygiene. I told him that even though I needed to have my clothes off for the massage, it was not appropriate to touch me anywhere. 

So, why am I writing about this? Because it illustrates a point about the Nepali male that seems to be a repeated theme. Many Nepali men think all Western women want to have sex and these men are most willing to comply. But sex is only on the journey to the destination, your pocket; never loose the meaning of this. 

It was late morning by the time my gigolo had left, so the solar water was hot enough for a shower, so it was onto my second step of my healing process. The back brace worked quite well and I renewed my commitment to my posture. By the next day I was walking around quite well. 

You will find a myriad of tips on coming to Nepal in my eBook, Nepal: An Insider's Secrets. Additional tips for going to Chitwan:
1. If there is solar water heating you will find it best to take a shower from mid-morning on until dark. If it's electric water, that is if you do not see solar panels on the roof you can bet it's electric water heating-the best time to get hot water is in the very early morning. If you get up in the night you can check to see if it's hot. It will be hot around 5:30 am for the staff to shower. It is usually turned off after that at many budget guest houses. Just like my back ache, you have to take responsibility for everything that happens to you in Nepal and the shower is no exception. Complaining or wishing you could get up in the morning to a nice hot shower won't help. 
2. After checking for hot water you will want to check for bed bugs. 
3. Be sure to bring binoculars. You can buy or rent binoculars in Kathmandu at any trekking supply store. I found some very unimpressive binoculars in the Bishal Bazaar Shopping Center in New Road for 1,200 NRs. Renting them should cost around 100NRs. per day.

Referrals from our visit: 
Uption Restaurant, Sauraha, Chitwan 9806867492 They make a decent Mexican enchilada, as well as local dishes. They are priced moderately, but it's outdoors and a bit of squirm factor, but excellent by comparison.

Kahtmandu Kitchen Restaurant & Bar, Sauraha, Chitwan 9845342111 This is a favorite tourist hangout during high season, as it's mentioned in the Lonely Planet. We ate lunch here. They made a good Hakka Noodle dish, but are a bit pricy.

This is a picture of the Tree Land Lodge with Genae and the owners. Not bad for 400 NRs.
This is one of Tree Land Lodge's cottages with a shared bath for 150 NRs.
Tree Land Lodge, Sauraha, Chitwan 00977 056-580254, 9845523406 This only cost 400 NRs. for both of us with attached bath. It was quite nice, but had some mildew on the aluminum ceiling. The owner told me they were going to take off the roofs and replace them with a thatched roof. They had solar water and the place was clean. I would not recommend their food. Not only is the kitchen a bit rough but they took three hours to bring us our meal the first night. It is small and they are not up to professional standards-nice people and great price. 

Chitwan Village Resort, Sauraha, Chitwan +977 56 580485, 9855062152 CVResort@wlink.com.np http://ChitwanVillageResort.com This second place will cost from 1,200-2,000 NRs. per night. It was nice and new and near the river and town. They have a decent restaurant and elephants live just next door.

This is Genae and Shanta sitting near the river at the Hermitage Hotel
The Hermitage Hotel +977-56-580090, 580120 Sauraha, Chitwan, +977-1-4424390 / 4421303 (Reservation Office, KTM)  http://www.nepalhotelhermitage.com/ They have rooms for 2,500 NRs. per night. They have a beautiful garden and reasonably priced food. They are also located near the river. What we liked about this place, other than the view, was the nice tour guide they have. Shanta is an older man, as far as guides go; he is very experienced and knows the local flora and fauna-particularly birds. We strongly encourage you to book a trek from the Hermitage Hotel if Shanta is your guide and you are not on a tight budget.

This is the most humble trekking guide office I've ever seen.
Wildlife Tour Office, Bijay Lama +977 9808608972, 0156580199. This young man and his colleagues focus on backpackers and budget travelers. We were impressed with these young men for their very friendly personalities as well as local expertise. These guys are a lot of fun and will work with you if you don't have a lot of money.

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.


Visit my website: Nepal: A Tourist's Manual






Monday, February 11, 2013

Going to Chitwan-Lessons Learned


View of the river in Chitwan area. This was at our 400 NRs. guest house.
Everyone kept telling me to go to Chitwan. Maybe they were just tying to get rid of me, but I finally went. Genae went with me and I have to admit that I did enjoy myself. It was very nice and quite a bit different from Kathmandu. Since this trip I've made a coupled of decisions. I am going to write shorter blog posts, and write more posts. Blogspot errors when I try to save or publish the post, so I think keeping posts smaller will be less frustrating.

I hadn't been out of the valley very much since I arrived over two years ago. Yet, in my eBook, Nepal: A Tourist's Manual, I wrote a transportation chapter and tried to cut some of the errors out of traveling for my readers. This was a test as to my research. I knew there was another way to get out of the Valley without getting up and to the bus at 6:30 am, but I didn't really know how. I wanted to find out and actually wasted a couple of days trying to get the information. After it didn't come, I decided to just do it. We did.  

This is the kind of bus you would expect to ride in if you take a 'tourist bus.' They are comfortable with reclining seats and no one standing in the isle, carrying goats or riding on top. We stopped about half way through the trip at a very nice and clean restaurant with a nice buffet. 

First, you do not need anyone to book your ticket the day before. This can be done at any trekking/travel office for the same price before the day of your trip or you can go to the bus office in the morning that you want to travel. Obviously, if you come at high season or during a major Hindu pilgrimage you will need to book in advance, for sure. The bus office is located across from the Garden of Dreams (not the same as the street where the buses are parked). It will cost the same if you book direct or from an agent-unless he cheats you. The price of a tourist bus ticket is very small. You will need to get a taxi or walk to the intersection by the Garden of Dreams in Kantipath before 6:30 am. If you want to avoid a taxi so early in the morning you can stay at some very inexpensive guest houses in Jamal or you can walk from Thamel if you don't have a lot of luggage. There is a small street across from the NIC building that would be a short walk to the bus park. I had no idea where they would put buses, but they were easy to spot all lined up in front of the old US Embassy.

Always get a 'tourist bus' rather than a 'local bus.' Local buses are no fun at all. They break down a lot and stop along the road instead of at proper toilets and they can take twice as long to get to your destination and you will spend less than $10 on most trips to just about any destination in Nepal. Of course there aren't necessarily tourist buses going to all points, so sometimes a local bus is the only way to get there. But, if given a choice, always pay the $2-3 extra for the tourist bus.

I was pleasantly surprised at the price, only 400 NRs. to get to Chitwan. There is a tourist bus around Garden of Dreams called Greenline, in case you get stuck and need to book. It is way overpriced at $17 for the one-way ticket, but includes brunch. That is a lot of money! They stop at the only place that serves decent food along the way. We stopped there, too, and spent less than $4 on our 'brunch.'

A lot of people book tours from Kathmandu or online. The prices start at around $100 for a two night package. We opted to do our Chitwan adventure on our own. We took our time and stayed almost a week and still spent less than $300 for the two of us.

Although I will be writing a couple more posts about Chitwan, I want you to get your trip to Chitwan off to a great start  with this list of what to bring with you:

1. Binoculars: We were unable to find a place to rent or buy them in the Chitwan area. After we got back to Kathmandu we found some for 1,200 NRs. at the Bishal Bazzar complex at New Road.

2. Electric pot and supplies to make coffee: We didn't bring cups, but instead used them from the guest houses. We experienced load shed on a few early mornings, but really enjoyed waking up to our own hot coffee. It wasn't just about saving money. It is difficult to get real coffee in many places in Nepal. It was easier to get real coffee in Chitwan, but found that it wasn't always available. 

3. Get all the money you will need in Kathmandu before you leave for your trip. The towns are very spread out in the Chitwan area. I did see a few ATMs that I do not believe would charge you, but it would be a wasted morning to find one.

4. If you are reading this from abroad, purchase an electronic mosquito repellent to wear around your neck. During most of the year there can be a mosquito problem in the Chitwan area. You might also want to purchase some natural rub on products or Avon's Skin-so-soft. 

These pony carts made travel a breeze.

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.


Visit my website: Nepal: A Tourist's Manual

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Panauti!


My friend, Kamal, came to pick me up and surprised me by wanting to take my scooter instead of his motorbike. I love to ride on my own scooter because it is easier to get on and off. I really have an attachment to my scooter. I bought it two years ago shortly after I arrived in Kathmandu; of course I paid much more than its value, but it was well worth it. It’s been two years and about ten drivers, but it’s held up very well. Bajaj has discontinued this model and there is something that needs to be replaced, but my last driver had no interest in getting it fixed. It seems each one would try to convince me to upgrade to a motorcycle, or at least a newer model. 

So we set off for Panauti, an ancient temple village on the way to Nama Buddha. Panauti is a beautiful temple city with an amazing Bhirab temple. I stood there peeking into the temple so impressed by the human sized Bhirab along with several other gods. I was never able to find out who the god on the other side directly facing Bhirab was. I’m not actually a devotee, but rather a fan. 



 


The admission of 300 NRs. includes a visit to the little museum, a nice treat. One problem with museums in Asia is they do not always have the items marked well in English. Most of the things were self explanatory, an entire room of artifacts. This one was my personal favorite. 

Bhirab's Arm

These masks are the kind used for festival ceremonies. It is said that the devotees who wear them become possessed by the actual god during these ceremonies and it can be quite a site. The masks can weigh over 20 pounds/40 Kg. and the devotees will wear them for the entire day, walking while fasting-eating nothing and drinking only ceremonial alcohol. 




One day while at Kathmandu’s Darbur Square there was a very special festival whereby elderly devotees wore masks like these while walking from a rural village and kept them on all day. This festival only happens each 12 years. It was quite a site, especially considering the fact that it is believed that the actual gods are walking among us during these festivities.




This is Bhirab during Indri Jatra. This devotee wore the mask all day while running through the crowd prior to the chariot precession. It is tradition for the young men to heckle Bhirab during this festival and he is quite capable of dealing with them. Sometimes he even hurts them. It really would seem divine intervention would be needed for this type of activity, no food, no shoes and only alcohol during this late summer festival. 

Back to the Panauti Heritage City and temple: I always like to find out about guest houses in these rural areas so we stopped by Ananda’s Guest House and CafĂ© for lunch. It seemed to be the only place to stay within walking distance to the temple. No, not a Western concept in sight. We tried to order lunch but there was no food. The owner suggested finger chips/French fries, so we ordered milk tea and two orders of finger chips, and then we waited. We waited some more and finally we were served. Then the owner wanted to show me the rooms. Even my Nepali friend was becoming impatient. 


According to the owner, this place is mentioned in the Lonely Planet. I would not recommend this place. There was no glass in the windows and the building was obviously several hundred years old and looks to have had zero maintenance. It was downright scary to me. It being late January I cannot imagine anyone paying 500 NRs. to stay there for a night, but the owner continued to remind me that they do not include VAT or service charge, which would potentially increase the price to 615 NRs. He insisted that it is a real bargain. 




The owner proudly told me that they even have authentic, Nepali mattresses on the bed. Yes, this is a real ‘Nepali experience.’ There is a brand new guest house in the town, but it is a bit further to walk to the temple area. I am not trying to be classist or touristy; no windows mean anything can fly or crawl in during the night. There didn’t seem to be an inverter system, so the only light would come from this window or a candle. Do you see a safe place to put a candle? Although I am not including their contact information, you can easily find it near the old temple grounds. 

I am including another, newer hotel's contact information at the end of this post. Hotel Panauti is new and quite nice. Rooms start at 500 NRs. with shared bath or 1,000-1,500 NRs. with attached bath. This was the off-season prices.
Booking Advice This is why I advise against booking directly or long term from a booking site in Nepal: A Tourist's Manual, eBook. If you come at high season and do not want to stay at the Lonely Planet’s 5 star choices, you should never book directly to the hotel from the internet. You should always use an internet booking site for the first one or two days and no more. 
If you like the guest house and want to stay there for a week or more you should talk with the manager about a reduced rate to continue your stay. If you don’t like it just start shopping for a better guest house with a better price. They are everywhere in the valley and there is always a way to get a room out on the trekking trail. For more tips, you can check out my eBook, Nepal: A Tourist's Manual. 
Know that all internet prices are inflated when it comes to Nepali guest house rooms. Some are more than quadrupled over the walk-in price. If you book for two days and love it, what if it is booked after that? As unlikely as this would be, they will either make room for you or will get on the phone with their competitors to get you a comparable room. That’s just the nature of the hospitality service. 

One other tip from the book: Never arrive with a person of the opposite sex without stating that you are married if you want to share a room. There is an old law that you must be married to stay with someone, but many in the tourist business use it to sell additional room. 

Hotel Panauti, Ltd. hotelpanauti@yahoo.com http://panautihotel.com Phone: +977 011-440055, 011-440469. Dharma Narayan Sonam, 9841-416526.

Panauti Museum and Municipality, 0977-011 or 0144131, email: panautimuseum@yahoo.com  http://panautimun.gov.np


Temples are often home to many children. They are usually very poor. Please do not give them candy or money.



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.


Visit my website: Nepal: A Tourist's Manual