Saturday, January 14, 2017

How to Find Good Health Care in Nepal?


One of the biggest mistakes tourists make is taking care of such things as dental and medical care prior to leaving their country, well that is if you are from somewhere like the US. Health care and dental are quite good in Nepal if you know where to go. I had a bad root canal from the US fixed and the dentist saved the tooth next to it at the same time. It was pretty painless, excellent sanitation, amazing price at a little less than $250 for both teeth that included 3 procedures that lasted 30-45 minutes each. The filament was actually growing into my jaw bone. I wouldn't even know which teeth he fixed, they came out so well.

I got sick and thought it was my heart. Turns out it was my lungs with an infection. They did everything for me and it only cost about $50. Although I'm not so sure I'd want open heart surgery done here, I'm quite pleased with the health care in Nepal.

There is CWIC at the British Embassy and if you have insurance you can go there, but it is crazy expensive! They wanted almost $100 to just see a doctor one time that I became ill shortly after arriving in Nepal. They turned me away because my insurance didn't like them, probably because it isn't near local prices.

How to find great health care:
1. First, you'll want to get a good referral. You can post a question on the KTMKTM group on google or ask another tourist. Do not ask a Nepali unless they are wealthy or in the medical profession. 
2. Use a hospital with an international presence. When I got sick with the lung issue I went to a hospital with a Japanese presence. When I sprained my ankle I went to the Korean Friendship Hospital. It wasn't quite as nice, but it was fine. I had to laugh because they only had a squat toilet, which was impossible with one good leg. That's the difference. It was quite nice, but on a Korean level. There are some great hospitals with German or Netherlands support that will be near what you'd expect in those countries. There is a new, cardiac hospital, but I don't remember who is funding it. It's quite nice-really impressive.
3. Remember to ask questions and have the doctor write everything down for you. This seems like a no brainer, but the doctors don't seem to communicate well. I ask my Nepali friends after they've been to the hospital, 'What did the doctor say was wrong?' They usually say, 'Fever.' You really need to take charge of your own body. Do not just go along with what they want to do. Remember, there is no medical malpractice anything in Nepal. They screw up, you get an 'oops.'

4. Take advantage of alternative medical practices. There are Buddhist healers, Hindu astrologers and palm readers and even Shaman. Additionally, there are babbas and monks who are quite talented healers. One time my driver was taking me on a motorcycle ride and when he hit a pot-hole my shoulder' ligament got pulled and seemed to take forever to heal. My day helper finally took me to a healer in an old part of Kathmandu, up a small, dark staircase. He blew on my shoulder and hit it with a small broom like they sweep the floor with and blew on it. That was it; I was healed.  Unfortunately, I lost contact with that healer.

There is an Ayuvedic healing center just outside of Bhaktapur that I'd previously written about here on this blog. Although a bit pricey for Nepal, they are unusually clean and have doctors trained in both Western and Eastern medicine. There are also some skin clinics in Kathmandu, as well as Tibetan medical clinics in Thamel, Boudha and probably elsewhere. The Tibetan clinics have excellent high altitude sickness medication. As I suggest in my eBook, Nepal: A Tourist's Manual, getting a discreet medical test in Nepal can help to either put your mind to rest or help you to consider some options.

It can be a challenge, but you can find excellent health care here. I highly suggest including a few days to take advantage of whatever medical services you can while you are here.



My eBook is available now at https://payhip.com/b/sQu5 If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. 

Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you get my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. http://bit.ly/2aGxcuHIf there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 

Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2 

If you''d like to connect on social media with me here's how:Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frugal.travels 



      

Friday, October 7, 2016

Load Shed in Nepal-What You Need to Know



Batti ayo! ("Electricity Come")

UPDATE:Although I am leaving the blog post about load shedding up, we have a wonderful update to post. It seems they had a change in government ministers and the new guy isn't corrupt. He found where all the electricity was going and now there is so much electricity we have it ALL THE TIME! Thank you to the powers that be for all this electricity. They have asked that we try to conserve from 5 am to 8 am, but if we can manage to cooperate maybe Nepal will have enough electricity now.

Lonely Planet has put Nepal on the list of 'Must See' destinations in 2017, so please come. Lot's of electricity now and much of the earthquake mess is cleaned up. It's a lot easier to clean up after the earthquake when there isn't as much infrastructure in place.  The Boudhanath Stuppa is fully restored now, as are many other UNESCO sites.
The people of Nepal are ready to receive guests and the government is pretty welcoming, being one of the last countries where you can get a visa upon entry. There has been an effort toward development and many of the roads reflect that goal. There is even recycling now. Nepal is a wonderful place to find your next adventure. The people are friendly and kind and the landscape is breathtaking.

ORIGINAL POST:Monsoon is almost over and that means more load shedding 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")


My eBook is available now at https://payhip.com/b/sQu5 If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. 

Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you get my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. http://bit.ly/2aGxcuHIf there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 


Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2 


If you''d like to connect on social media with me here's how:Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frugal.travels 




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.



My eBook is available now at https://payhip.com/b/sQu5 If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. 

Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you get my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. http://bit.ly/2aGxcuHIf there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 

Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2 

If you''d like to connect on social media with me here's how:Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frugal.travels 


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 Internet forums. 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. You will see a general break-down of the trekking company's costs at the end of this article.


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. Not only that, but the guest houses have a relationship with the trekking guide/company. If you are dissatisfied they may lose the trekking guide as a client. 



5. A guide will enhance your journey. Is there an interesting festival or marriage ceremony, tea farm, monastery, flower in bloom, 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 or homeless person, no?  

Here's the break-down on what some of your money will be used from your $75-100 per day
$20 guest house rooms for you, your guide and porter
$12 food for each of you
$20 guide's salary
$10 porter's salary

That leaves very little 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. He will also take your passport to the permit office to take care of the legalities. Your trek will likely be the only one 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.



My eBook is available now at https://payhip.com/b/sQu5 If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you bet my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. http://bit.ly/2aGxcuHIf there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 
Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2 

If you''d like to connect on social media with me here's how:
Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frugal.travels 

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.