Friday, October 7, 2016

Load Shed in Nepal-What You Need to Know


Batti ayo! ("Electricity Come")

Monsoon is almost over and that means more loadshedding and less electricity. People thinking of coming to Nepal wonder how the lack of electricity will impact their travels while here. People from the West who are looking for a home in Asia wonder how anyone can live without electricity for hours throughout the days. Prior to monsoon the electric runs mostly from 12-6 am with a few short hours throughout the day-brutal!

First, if you know something is going to happen you aren't likely to be so disappointed when it does. There is a schedule that you can download from several places. Here's one in English: http://battigayo.com/schedule Note that the cut-off times are the times listed between the dashes.

You'll notice there are 7 groups, all in the Kathmandu Valley. Many places, such as Panauti, outside the valley have water reserves and hydro plants, which means they may not even have loadshed. But while you are in Kathmandu you'll need to deal with it, depending on your budget. We have beds from only $6 with breakfast and private rooms with bath for $12, but most places with these prices are not likely to have 24 hr. electricity and WIFI like we do.

Be sure to check with the guest house prior to booking if you are a budget traveler. Otherwise, if you pay $20 or more you'll hardly notice. If one light in your room suddenly goes out, try another switch. One light in your room and toilet will be on the inverter line, so be sure to try the other switches. You will notice the electric switches work the opposite of most places with the 'off' position at the top. Next to the door you will notice several switched on the wall  and two plug-ins. It's best to use the bottom plug-in for charging things when the light comes on. Most plug-ins have a red light so you know when the electricity is running. This bottom plug usually works all night, so plug your computer or mobile in at night to conserve the electricity. Otherwise, there will be no lights for anyone until the grid is working.

Also, please make sure all light switches are in the óff' position before you leave your room. Additionally, check to make sure the water is not running in the bathroom. Water and electricity

What to buy? There are 15-25 NRs. cigarette lighters with a little flashlight on the end. They don't always work so be sure to check that it works before you pay. There are also people on the street selling rechargeable lights. I don't usually buy from them for fear of inferior quality, but many small stores sell these rechargeable lamps. Try to avoid Chinese products and opt for Indian made. I had two fires from the thin cords that come with the Chinese brands. Try not to leave it charging at night or when you are out. These lamps cost from $6-12 (I think I'm including Chinese brands in the prices here). You can also ask for a better cord. They sell them at any of the electrical shops for about a dollar.
Many families are still living in earthquake shelters

These rechargeable lamps make great 'leave behinds' for any of the children who go to government schools. It is difficult for many children to do their homework because they don't have electricity in their homes and they live in earthquake shelters that don't typically have windows.

This is one of our sponsored families. Fortunately, she will soon be able to move out of this earthquake shelter and into a home with some family members.

You might want to get a headlight flashlight if you like to read from hard copy books. The little CFL light bulbs don't light up the room well enough to read by. You can find these in any trekking store in Thamel.

Never leave your room without a flashlight of some kind. You just never know when you'll need it.

What if you want to stay in Nepal for an extended time? You can get an inverter and battery to make your computer last an extra 3 hours for under $65 or you can just get an extra battery for you computer for $25. They have Mac batteries, but are more expensive and harder to find. You can find any harder to find electronics in the "New Road" area in Kathmandu.

You can also get an inverter system if you rent a flat, under $300 with a battery and installation. I have a battery so heavy three men could hardly get it up the stairs. We also have a solar panel that we bought for around $300. The solar is a bit more expensive because the panels don't come with the battery or inverter. I think I over-paid for my solar.

If you found this helpful and are coming to Nepal, you will enjoy my eBook It's filled with helpful information that you aren't likely to find elsewhere.

For a copy of my free eBook that will get your trip to Nepal off to a great start, click here for your free download. 

Batti Gayo ("Electricity Go")




Monday, September 26, 2016

One Last Thing to Do Before Leaving Nepal


Some memories can last a lifetime, but really shouldn't. 

Parasites! I can tell you stories, for sure.One young man came to volunteer after the earthquakes and came down with a stomach bacteria. I asked him if he wanted someone to take a specimen to the lab for him. He insisted it was getting better. In a few days, the bug would be back. About the fourth round of him insisting it was getting better, he finally consented to have someone take a specimen to the lab.

When it came back 'nomal' I inquired to the person who took the specimen to the lab. As it turned out, the lab personnel asked Krishna, "What is it, urine?" Krishna wasn't sure, so he did what every well-meaning Nepali does, he agreed with the man. So it was tested as if it were urine and had nothing associated with unhealthy urine.

It was only at that point that the young man consented to see a doctor, which ended the problem. My reason for sharing the story isn't just to tell a funny story at a volunteer's expense, but to help you see the seriousness of the issue. Some of these parasites can attack your organs. Few doctors will think about parasites and I wonder how many people have been wrongly diagnosed with írritable bowel syndrome or even crones disease who simply had a bacteria hiding in his bowel. During the Indian border closing last year it seemed about 25% of our guests reported having had an issue. This was due to the lack of petrol, which had gone up to $5 a liter and was only available on the black market.

So, on your last full day in Nepal, if not sooner, you should go to a pharmacy and purchase 1 dose of de-worm medication. Do this even if you do not have symptoms. These worms are contagious and could affect someone you care about worse that it seems to be affecting you. Do not take the chance that your body will throw it off. If you are not convinced about the seriousness of this issue please read the following article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albendazole

Additionally, as I wrote in my eBook, "Nepal: A Tourist's Manual," if you become ill while you are staying in Nepal you can have the guest house owner have a doctor come for only $5-10 and hopefully closer to $5. He will bring a sterilized container for a specimen and some medication. The option would be to go to a hospital, but that is quite difficult for a tourist with diarrhea.

So, what is the 'One last thing to do before leaving Nepal?' It is to go to the pharmacist and get one pill to take that day and another one just in case you start getting intermittent bowel issues after you get back home. This will cost less than $1 and will have the added benefit that you won't pass this onto others.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Another Volunteer's Experience in Changunarayan



Having a degree in International Studies and currently being a Master degree student in Local Development, I had been interested in global issues including poverty, mass migration, environmental degradation, etc. for several years. However, I realized that having an interest and theoretical background is definitely not enough if someone truly wants to make a difference. So volunteering abroad appeared to be a good way to gain some practical knowledge and experience because it gives an opportunity to go out of one’s comfort zone and challenge yourself a little bit. To read more follow this link.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Teacher/Volunteer's Experience in Nepal


By Laura R. and Amanda Summers

From Laura: As a recently certified teacher of English as a foreign language, I had grandiose visions of how teaching in another country would be. I imagined putting all my newly learned skills to use; getting creative with lesson plans, having fun, and most importantly, making a difference in my students’ English comprehension. The reality, however, was much different.

The students themselves are a dream come true for any teacher; very respectful and hardworking. The school system is another story entirely. First off, they have government-issued English books riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes. The teachers never deviate from these books, so there is no room for lesson plan creativity.

The books themselves are organized well; they have separate lessons for grammar, listening, reading, and speaking. Unfortunately, instead of actually doing those lessons, the teachers force the kids to copy every single word directly from the book. The students have absolutely no idea what they’re writing.

I’ve taken control of the classes, and I’m encouraging the students to speak more English.  However, because they aren’t used to speaking, the younger students are very shy and often scared to speak in front of me, but they become more comfortable after each passing class.
 

Overall, it was an eye-opening experience and I learned many times over that things do not go as planned in a foreign country. One highlight of my time here in Nepal was staying at the Star View Guest House in Changunaryan. It was only about a 15-minute walk from the school where I taught, and it has one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen. I was also able to meet other volunteers and tourists from all over the world, which is one of the best things about traveling.

From Amanda: So many from the west come to Asia with hopes and dreams of helping, fixing or somehow positively impacting society-or at least a person or two. It seldom works out exactly as we hope, but sometimes it's even better. 

It astounds me that volunteers continue to be one of the most taken advantage of groups of travelers on the planet today. It has been my desire to help in my own way. I'd been hosting volunteers at no charge at all, until I just couldn't do it anymore. I found the old adage to be true that if someone is given something for free they don't appreciate it. That certainly isn't true for the majority of volunteers, but a couple of bad apples are enough. We provide a bed, but ask our volunteers to pay for food and utilities, just $7 per day.

The placement agency did not even pick Laura up at the airport and only gave her two nights of lodging for the $300 or more she paid for the placement. In reality, you do not need a placement service to volunteer in Nepal. Here's a helpful blog post I wrote to help volunteers not fall victim. http://bit.ly/2aCdD5b

Kay Garnay for Nepal has a policy that the volunteers' experience in Nepal is equally as important as their service. We have our volunteers work just 3 hours per day/5 days per week. Additionally, we go to Kathmandu for site-seeing each week by car. Our rooms are clean and sometimes when I show the volunteer to their room I hear a faint, "Wow."

We are enjoying our volunteers very much. We work with only one government school in order to make the best use of our resources. We also support 4 libraries, so if you are coming to Nepal used, children's books are great if you want to bring something. Please do not buy new books or paper and pencils, as they are cheaper hear and it supports the local economy. We are so grateful to Laura and all our hardworking volunteers who sacrifice so much just to come here and leave the world a little better. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Gathe Mangal- The Metal Day


This is the celebration as it was in Bhaktapur
 CoWritten by Sajana Bhadel and Amanda Summers

Are you the kind of person who likes superstition? Can you walk under a ladder or cross the path of a black cat? If this describes you, you'll enjoy this festival. Parents swing their children through the fire as the effigy burns to release demons and bad karma, like a fresh start. Everyone joyfully follows the straw figure down to the river to be done with negative energy, such are some of traditions during this lively festival.


Gathe Mangal, or Ghantakarna Chaturdashi, is a festival is celebrated generally in the month of Shrawan, June/July. We have a special puja/offering to demons, serpents and other supernatural and natural elements like wind, water and fire to get rid of evils powers and the legendary demons. There is a belief among Nepalese that there used to be a Demon named Ghantakarna, a legendary demon who spread havoc against the people. Although this festival is celebrated throughout Nepal, Changunarayan celebrates it in its own, particular style, with even nearby villages having their own traditions. 

For more about this festival please see our agency, Kay Garnay for Nepal's blog. Finish reading here

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Our Warm Clothing Drive


When I first arrived in Kathmandu my Nepali friend told me Nepali do not like used clothing. That made sense to me because I've heard it said that part of one's aura can be left behind on clothing. Actually, that is only true for people in higher castes who are not suffering from the cold.

Our volunteer, Daniel was very excited about our organisation's name so he has inked it in his body.

Our recent interns/volunteers, Daniel and Julia, brought 10 Kilo of good quality, warm clothing. Then we got about another 20 Kg. of clothing sent from Germany by a newly arriving volunteer. We also had more clothes left my other guests and volunteers and baby hats and knitted things sent from New Zealand from Kerensa's friend. These things are hardly worn and excellent quality, even handmade for us.

We called a few people Sajana knows from the village and spread everything out on the big bed. The women were allowed to take just 1-2 items so we would have the bulk of the clothing for people in the high country. I just realized that although many people in this village are affluent by Nepal's standards, we still have plenty of poor people. It may not snow here, but it does get bitter cold.

I found a post I wrote about 2 years ago, before the earthquakes and before founding our agency. I think it's time to see how much more we can collect. We have only about 60 days until the nights become a problem, especially for people in the shelters.

Here's our offer:
Warm Clothing Drive for People in the High Villages.

Get up to ½ off on your room charges at the Star View Guest House & Retreat Center, Changunarayan.
Please bring warm clothing to donate and enjoy 100 NRs. per Kg. of warm clothing off the price of your room. Stay with us for a maximum of 2 weeks for 1/2 off.
Book your stay now at https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2533847 This is the least expensive room, so we can arrange a room after you book this one. We will adjust your balance accordingly upon arrival
Or call 015141181
Star View Guest House & Retreat Center


 
You can see the gratitude in this woman's eyes.
This woman is in a remote village we took warm clothing to last year.

Friday, July 22, 2016

5 Reasons to Hire a Trekking Guide



Many young people come to Nepal and assume getting a trekking guide is optional. "Many trekking routes are so busy you'll feel like it's a walker's highway, no way to get lost," or so tourists post on message boards. Although this is often true, it's equally true that all mountains have risks and all cultures have unspoken rules that need to be obeyed.

Trekking companies charge upwards of $75 per day, all inclusive of food and shelter. Many people wonder how a trekking company could earn that much to 'just walk around in the Himalayas' with you. 


Reasons to either hire a trekking company or at least take a local guide from the area you want to trek in are many. Here are just a few:

1. It supports the local economy and the economy of the country. Nepal has only 3 major industries, trekking, farming and handicrafts. 

2. It keeps you safe. There are many plants and animals that you can stumble into that can cause you a lot of harm. Imagine squatting in the woods over a nettle or poison ivy patch! There are many less humorous possibilities that you have no way of knowing about, such as aggressive cows, landslides and finding the bridge in order to cross a river safely.

3. A guide can keep you out of real trouble. Yes, Nepal is a safe, friendly country, but things can happen and there have even been reports of robbers in the trees who will jump down and rob you. A recent volunteer we hosted had to climb up on a rock-faced mountain and sleep on an actual cliff because he was followed by a band of young men who were out for no good. Another guest told of her friend who partnered up with a random traveler and went trekking with him. Although he was a nice young man, they got into a dispute on the trail and he went on alone. She was the last person to see him.

4. A guide will save you money on the trail. Although the rooms may be under $10 a night, you may spend that much on dinner and an additional $2 on a shower. Your trekking company will be responsible for such expenses giving you a lot less to worry about. 

5. A guide will enhance your journey. Is there an interesting festival or marriage ceremony, tea farm, monastery, museum or baba that would enrich your trek? Your guide will know. Let him know whatever your interests are. They can identify bird calls, introduce you to local people, take countless pictures of you and be your friend when you need one.

I agree that you need a good, licensed guide. Ask to see the trekking license, check references, screen them well and do not allow your trekking guide to drink alcohol during your trek. Do make that clear prior to the trek.

My point is that if you do not support the economy while you are traveling then you really can't call yourself a tourist or traveler; you'd actually be an immigrant, no?  

Here's the break-down on what some of your money will be used for: 
$75 per day
$10 guest house
$12 food
$20 guide's salary
$10 porter's salary

That leaves only $25 profit for the trekking company. From that they need to pay for office space, internet and office staff, licenses, taxes, etc. Petrol is actually around $1 per liter, so when your trekking guide needs to meet with you, it can be a hardship in itself. Yours will likely be the only trek they will be doing at the time, so it isn't like they are raking in any kind of 'big bucks.' The majority of trekking companies sit for several days to several weeks between clients.

It is not so cheap to live in Kathmandu like you read about people in Nepal living on $2 a day. This national average reflects most of the population that lives on their family farms where there is nothing but village life, subsistence farming. When you are packing to come to Nepal, please remember someone who will not have a jacket or shoes this winter and bring an extra, gently used item.



Friday, July 8, 2016

Computer Class Graduation Day


If you've been following along with our goals and achievements you will be happy to know our first 3-month computer class has come to an end with 7 graduates. We had our ceremony this morning with 4 board members attending. Our lovely interns, Julia and Daniel we kind enough to make crepes for everyone. None of the Nepali guests knew quite what to do with them, but everyone enjoyed them, for sure.


Our little, grassroots agency, Kay Garnay for Nepal, has done many things so far with very little money. We just do whatever we can to help the people. Sometimes that means getting creative. It's difficult to get a job in Nepal, which is actually why I employ 5 local people. They won't get rich on the base salary, but I offer them ways to make more money. Whether they work as a local guide for our guests, bring a tourist to stay at the guest house or help me with a marketing campaign, they can always earn more. This past month my newest helper, Bikash, spoke to a friend with a guest house and sponsored him on our AirBnB affiliate program. Anyone who signs up under us to become a host will get a $50 bonus when they get their first guest that pays $100 or more. If you would like to support Kay Garnay for Nepal this is an easy way.

This past year has seen many hardships for Nepali. As if the earthquakes weren't enough, we had 6 months of political issues with India. Due to the border being closed for cooking fuel and petrol, many people had to cook with wood, including us. We've been trying to make up for the deforestation by planting trees and so far we've planted more than 50, thanks to a couple of our donors from UK, Mark and Tom Goddard. Not only did they donate, but they are coming to Nepal to volunteer. So looking forward to hosting them.



This is school break for many of the children here in Changunarayan. We have been encouraging them to speak English and give them something to do. The kids are enjoying Daniel and Julia, our interns, who play football with them, staged art classes and even 'Popcorn and a Movie' night. The first movie was "Epic," a children's movie to encourage them to be strong and take back their own power. Again, we have to say thanks to our donors, the Goddards, for the new projector.


Speaking of getting creative in order to accomplish something on a budget, our next project is to take 4 of our children's libraries that we've been doing book drives for and create a sharing network. We will begin a book rotation so the kids will get some fresh books.

Our website is finally back up, so take a look: http://KayGarnay.org

Our tip for coming to Nepal: We wanted to do more during the semester break, but found unexpected resistance from the school's principal. I didn't understand why. It was finally explained. Many well-meaning tourists volunteer with NGOs or start one, but have an agenda to convert the children to Christianity. Not only would the principal loose his job, but the volunteer would likely get deported. Hindus have been living and dying for many generations prior to Abraham walking with God, so all is probably well in that department in Nepal. Conversion from Hinduism or Buddhism is prohibited. I seriously did not know that.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Great Shopping Finds in Kathmandu



As most of my readers know, I'm a huge fan of Nepali handicrafts. It's typical of me to wander off from the group and get stuck in a tiny, crowded store with unique products as we walk in many of the districts of Kathmandu.  Brass, copper, semi-precious stones, hard-fired pottery or even handmade musical instruments are just the start. As I walk along I'll see something I'd never seen before, a button store, Tibetan style fabrics, woolen carpet or possibly furniture. Such fine workmanship and at bargain prices.

Last week was no different. Our volunteer guests and Nepali escorts walked along at their own pace while I scouted the stores for unique treasures. This first find is a large teapot made with inlaid turquoise that would look stunning on a mantle or display shelf.

This same store had two other unique pieces. This is the retail outlet for a family-owned manufacturing factory or workshop. These pieces are made by experienced, professional artisans, not slaves in a sweatshop.

I found this piece, a canister with Buddhas and traditional designs intricately integrated into the piece to be breathtaking. It has an antique look about it that would work with a variety of decor.





This copper canister reminded me of the Buddhist prayer wheels in Kathmandu. It is obviously hand-crafted and well-made. This piece is one of their signature pieces, so it can be ordered in sets of any amount. Others of the pieces are one of a kind and would be more difficult to order more. However, being as this is factory direct, I'm confident we will be able to order these pieces. It is important to order an entire set at one time to make sure the copper and designs match. Otherwise, the tone could be a bit different.


If you come to Nepal the shopping can be some of the most amazing days. Do take a day or two just to explore the quality of art in Nepal. 

Kay Garnay for Nepal, our NGO, has established a shopping, finding service for people looking to support our work and get some unusual pieces. If any of these are of interest, please inquire and we can send you more details. If you are coming to Nepal you'll be able to save even more by finding them yourself, which is half the fun. Getting a box from Nepal would be a close second.

Please inquire about these or let us shop for you. Just let us know what you are looking for at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com   We use the little bit of profit for our management costs and projects.

The price for this teapot is $199 plus shipping


Price for this piece is $99 plus shipping

This canister/pot is $129 plus shipping

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ATM Tips and Tricks for Travelers



Isn’t life in the 21st century wonderful? If you are as old as I am you might remember how difficult it was to travel if you were expecting money to come to you after you left home. We had to go to the bank to buy travelers’ checks. Everything about it was cumbersome. Then in the 1980’s came this wonderful thing called the ATM card. Lovely! Now my money follows me around the planet and it is great to be able to travel. 



Whether you are traveling through Asia, Africa or even a bit closer to home, these tips will help you to keep your money safe. 

How does international banking work in developing countries like Nepal? Actually, it works pretty well considering all that can go wrong. 

1.     Use only ‘Tourist Friendly’ ATM machines. This is the machine that has a slot whereby you can dip your card without letting go of it (see picture). In Nepal, there are both scheduled and random power outages. If you let go of your card and there is a power outage before you complete your transaction you will need to spend the next day at the bank or tourist police department getting your card back. There are fewer of these ‘tourist friendly’ ATMs than there used to be. My solution; Check the time and don’t use the ATM near the top of the hour if you are in a country with power outages.
2.     Always make sure there is a guard outside. Although they may not speak English, they will help you if you need them. I also like to use the same one regularly so I can recognize the guard. Random guys in uniforms are not always legitimate guards. Fortunately, Nepal is not a dangerous country.
3.     Don't try getting money on the weekends. There are often problems with the international cable lines and if it’s 2:00 am on a Sunday morning in the West there isn’t much that can be done until business hours wherever the bank’s headquarters is. This can affect banks in Europe, also, since many international banks have headquarters in the US. It seems the problem may be due to the Atlantic cable lines.
4.     Don't try getting money on National holidays in the country you are in or American holidays. It is not uncommon during major festivals in developing nations to see many ATM machines out of money.
5.     Do not wait until you are out of money to go to the ATM. Many tourists expect to just stop by the ATM on their way to go trekking or to an excursion outside the metro area. There are few ATMs in the rural areas in developing countries.  It is not uncommon to see 24 hour ATMs closed down tight. When one machine runs out of money or is closed there seems to be a domino effect on the others in the area and you can spend all morning looking for a ‘tourist friendly’ ATM.
6.     Don't go late at night. Particularly if you have different color skin or are wearing Western attire, you will be noticed by everyone. Why put the spotlight on yourself?
7.     Don’t go to stand-alone machines. Make sure the actual bank is nearby. Otherwise, it is difficult to know if it’s a legitimate machine. Inspect the ATM machine for legitimacy.
8.     Cover the keypad with your left hand while you enter your PIN. There can be a camera that records which keys you enter. Then the criminals copy your card and clean you out!
9.     Be very careful if you go to ATM lounges. People are very curious about how the international banking works. Do not go at extremely busy times. I only take one pull at a time from the ATM lounges. Otherwise, I would walk out with everyone knowing I have $300-$400. That’s a lot of money in many countries.
10.                       Get at least one special debit card for traveling from an international bank, such as Chase or Standard Chartered Bank. Depending on the account you set up, they can remove international charges from your statement. By using online banking you will be able to transfer some money when you need it, but if the account becomes compromised your main account will remain safe.
11.                      Just because your debit cards works in a nation's capital city like Kathmandu doesn’t mean it will work in Pokhara, or another major city outside of the metro area. It’s best to check to see if a bank that works with your card has a branch in the area before you go.
12.                       Don’t take too much money with you. You should budget $20 per day (in Nepal) if you are a budget traveler. If you go trekking or on a safari with a company you won’t need any money, but you should carry a little bit anyway, just in case they don’t want to pay for a second cup of tea with dinner.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Bhairab Jatra, a Month of Celebration




 Co-authored by Bikash Suwal

Some of the most fun you can have in Nepal for free are the festivals. You do not need to believe any way whatsoever, nor do you need to pay. Sometimes even the temple fees are not collected. The atmosphere is often like a parade but can have a serious feel. Please be respectful during these time and remember that even though we are spectators, the local people are worshiping their gods. They are having fun with their spirituality, so please do not insult them by smoking at the temples or pretending to be Hindu just to get a peak at an idol. 


Chickens getting sacraficed for the community meal.

Each festival, jatra, has a reason for being, a theme, a story and often even a legend. Bhairab Jatra is no exception and is one of the lesser known festivals that have unique activities for tourists to enjoy. One of the major advantages of this festival is that you can join the celebration throughout the month of April/May of any year. The Nepali calendar is based upon the lunar activities, so it often begins about 2 weeks prior to its western counterpart month. You can check the Nepali calendar for the month of Baisakh for the exact dates. The first day of Bhairab Jatra is called “Paach Arre Jatra.”

The theme of Bhairab Jatra is in unifying the community, as this jatra celebrates the lower castes, which include people of lower castes such as butcher, tailor, chariot puller and the music caste. The theme of this jatra is to show appreciation for the lower castes that do so much for society, as well as to honor Bhairab and the other gods. 

If the thought of sacrafices bothers you just remember this is a time when everyone get to eat a good meal-even with meat!


Throughout the month of Baisakh, the Idol of Bhairab is carried by chariot from one village to the next, so the various communities can celebrate the festival and honor Bhairab, probably the oldest god still being worshiped. According to the historical record, the Newar people brought Bhairab with them when they migrated to the Kathmandu Valley so many millennia ago. Even so, Bhairab is honored as the angry, strong incarnation of Shiva. But rather than causing anger or discord, Bhairab takes the anger and transmutes it. When I hung my first Bhairab mask on the wall the entire energy in my apartment softened.

The chariot is carried by people of the lower castes, which is an honor and anyone can touch and worship the idol by first touching its feet and then touching their forehead and then chest. There is also the colored powder and other items to ‘tika’ one’s forehead. Of course, there is lots of music and enjoyment throughout the festivities as the chariot is carried to the various villages with festivities going on until late into the night.


Cities and villages that celebrate the Bhairab Jatra are Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Thimi and Kavre with the last celebration in Changunarayan where the idol is housed throughout the year. The reason for this festival has to do with Bhairab’s strength with the need to not become fooled by demonic gods. 
They paraded throughout Changunarayan for a week or more with the music and dancing randomly throughout the day and night.
This chariot is quite heavy and is carried while the young men dance with it still on their back-Seriously, they dance while carrying it.


Note about co-author, Bikash Suwal:  Bikash has a Master's degree in Public Administration and works full time with us at the Star View Guest House in Changunarayan. He is Newar and is a practicing Hindu.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Vinod K's Travel Blog: Anjaneri Fort (Birth Place Of Lord Hanuman)

Hanuman has been one of my favorite players in Hinduism, so I had to read this blog post. I live near the place where Hanuman picked up the entire mountain just to make sure the right plant was there for the god. If you like travel blogs with lots of good pics you'll enjoy this one: 
Vinod K's Travel Blog: Anjaneri Fort (Birth Place Of Lord Hanuman)

Friday, April 22, 2016

"In Retrospect, Would You Move Again to Nepal?

These homes had to come down after the earthquakes, but we'll rebuild.

Recently I read a post on Expat (http://bit.ly/246JSwP) that asked the following questions. It caused me to think, so here are my thoughts on this question.

"If you had to look back on your expat experience in Nepal, would you heartily say "let’s do it again"? From the preparation stage to your actual everyday life in your new country, what did you enjoy the most? Would you do certain things differently? Could you tell us why?

How would you describe the benefits of your expatriation in Nepal so far?"

I didn't know where I would end up. I thought it would have been Madagascar, but just as I was getting out of college after my husband died Madagascar had a coup (yes, I'm a late bloomer). I still thought it would at least be in Africa, but my money only took me as far as India. I thought Nepal would be a nice side trip for me and I'd return to India, but when I took one look at the Himalayas from the tourist bus window I cried as my heart embraced the magnificent majesty.

That was over 5 years ago. I've seen many personal assistants and several landlords come and go, as well as several petrol outages and disasters. Even after the first earthquake I didn't even think of taking the American embassy's flight back home. So, I'd have to unequivocally say I'd easily do it again.

I recently commented to a friend that for life to be so simple here there sure are a lot of steps to do some of the simplest of things. For example, you might find it easiest to begin your shower experience by cleaning the bathroom bucket and fill it up until the water runs hot. Yes, taking a simple shower requires plenty of thought and a few more steps. You will also need to think about when to charge your batteries so as to keep the load off the invertor. All these steps and concerns help me to appreciate the little things.
What I like most is being able to actually make a difference in the lives of my neighbors. With the help of some lovely volunteers we've built several shelters (for over 50 families), I bring electricity into a neighbor's home for the first time ever for them. I love to sit up on my rooftop and see clouds floating gently by a bit lower than I sit. It's like I'm in a castle in the sky, so beautiful. I can see the Himalayas and hear various bird calls and even watch the eagles soar past.
It's incredibly inexpensive  for most things and I rent an entire 14 room building for the same price as the tiny plot of land I had my 30 year old mobile home parked on. But of all the things, financial, social or environmental what I enjoy the most is the kindness and respect I am given here. I've been treated better than I ever have been before, almost exclusively.
The only thing I think I'd have done differently would be to come sooner instead of using up all my savings before I got here. Looking back I'm sure it was just fear that caused me to meander, but I really didn't even have Nepal on my bucket list, so I have to say that it all worked out perfectly.




The benefits of my expatriation are so many. I have a lovely family around me who treat me so nicely. No one can take the place of family, but my Nepali family is a real close second. Actually, I am grateful to my own children because having such independent offspring has been the biggest gift allowing me to travel.