If you’ve ever heard anything about Nepal, it was probably something along the lines of “it’s one of the most beautiful countries with the kindest people”. And let us tell you, it’s one hundred per cent true. Nepal is one of our favourite places; from its mesmerising landscapes, rich culture, hospitable people and epic trekking trails and hikes. But we’re sure you already know this, right? Nonetheless, we’ve put together a few things to remember before heading to Nepal.
1. Nepalese are some of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet
One thing we know to be true is that while the Nepalese don’t have much, they will give you all they have. Nepalese are some of the most loving and genuine people you will ever meet, and without a doubt you’ll leave Nepal with a very deep respect and admiration for them. Here are a few tips on how you can show your respect whilst in Nepal:
- The traditional way to greet someone is placing your palms together in prayer style and saying “namaste” or “namaskar”
- Be respectful with your clothing choices, cover knees and shoulders
- Public displays of affection are often frowned upon so resist the urge to smooch your loved ones!
- If you’re ever invited into a Nepalese home, remove your shoes before entering (same goes with temples)
2. It’s still in the process of recovering
On April 25th 2015, a devastating earthquake struck Nepal, killing over 8,000 people and leaving more than 21,000 wounded. It was the worst natural disaster to hit Nepal since the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake. Hundreds of thousands of people were left homeless and entire villages were flattened across the country. Historic buildings were destroyed or left in ruins, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Durbar Square. To this day, many Nepalese are still in the process of rebuilding their lives, and a visit to Nepal can be quite confronting. However, it is also completely eye-opening to experience the tenacity and resilience of these people, and how despite all they have lost, they will welcome you into their country with open arms and unwavering kindness.
Here are some links where you can donate and help Nepal and its people get back on their feet.
Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org.au/nepal-earthquake-2015.aspx)
3. Tourism hasn't been impacted as much as you think
After the earthquake it’s understandable you might be a bit apprehensive to visit Nepal anytime soon, but tourists aren’t as impacted as you might think. Travel inherently brings risks but if you are alert and mindful, you will have an amazing experience. Today in Nepal, hotels and restaurants are still open, kids are going to school, street vendors are going to work each day, Kathmandu traffic is its normal loud and bustling self, people still pray and go about their normal days. You might hear some extra hammering and witness extra construction work but it should not deter you from travelling there. In fact, now is the perfect time to go and perhaps lend a helping hand.
In terms of transport safety, let’s just say it’s not required by law for motorists to wear a helmet. Most of the roads are unpaved and feature large potholes and mountainous terrain. Keep your wits about you and don’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable doing.
4. Dal-bhat will become your new favourite meal
The food in Nepal is nothing like you’ve ever experienced, with dal-bhat being the staple item of choice. Using a spoon in your right hand, prepare yourself for some (literally) finger-licking good food. Dal-bhat is basically comprised of steamed rice and a cooked lentil soup and whilst it doesn’t sound like much, it’s actually very tasty. And with no infiltration of McDonalds (who have failed to make their mark in Nepal, to which we say yay!), your best bet to surviving in Nepal is to eat and do as the locals do. Indulge in dal-bhat for brekky, lunch and dinner, alternating every so often for some delicious momos (dumplings).
5. It’s dry and polluted but utterly mesmerising nonetheless
Nepal’s climate is very dry, much drier than other countries in Southeast Asia. In addition to that, Kathmandu and the surrounding Kathmandu Valley are often quite dusty and polluted, but don’t let that stop you! It might take you a few days to get used to the air, but once you do, Nepal is your oyster. From insanely beautiful treks to heart-pumping adventure activities, taking the time to reflect in stunning temples and eating tantalising food, Nepal will leave you craving more.
6. You’ll leave Nepal forever changed
Nobody comes back from Nepal without being changed in some irrevocable way. The utterly spiritual nature of the country and its people will ensure you keep coming back for more, time and time again. It’s just one of those places that truly makes you appreciate the beauty of nature, culture, history and power of the human spirit. We love Nepal!
Time: GMT+5:45. Nepal is five hours and 15 minutes behind Australia (AEDT)
Capital City: Kathmandu
Primary Religion: Hindu
Language: Nepali (but there are about 123 languages spoken there!)
Nepali (or Nepalese) is the official language of Nepal, however many traditional languages are still spoken. English is somewhat understood in major cities. Try communicating with locals using these common phrases:
|How are you?||Tapailai kasto chha?|
|What’s your name?||Tapaiko naam ke ho?|
|My name is ____||Mero naam ____ ho|
|What is the cost of this?||Yesko kati paisa ho?|
|Yes (it is….)||Ho|
|No (it is not)||Haina|
|I know/I don’t know||Thaaha chha/thaaha chaina|