Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trekking the Langtang Range Solo

When Annie told me she was on her way to Langtang by foot from Changunarayan it was all I could do to not lecture her. As I wrote in my eBook, Nepal: A Tourist's Manual, it is important to support the local economy when trekking. There have actually been incidents of muggings due to trekkers not using local guides. Not only that, but I think it's like swimming. Just as you should never swim alone, trekking alone can be just as dangerous. But Annie has done her share to support Nepal by volunteering and embraces the culture so graciously. She seems to have something surrounding her that keeps her safe, too, but don't we all? So, off she went on her adventure that could be called, "110 Pounds Against the Mountain."

Trekking the Langtang Range Solo

Written by guest blogger: Annie McLaughlin, Canada

Monday, March 9, 2015

Traveling with Children to Nepal

I recently read an article about the value of traveling with children; I'd been thinking about the same thing. Yes, Nepal is a 'kid friendly' place to go although I seldom see tourists traveling with children. We seem to get those who were recently children, and those with grandchildren, but not so much in-between tourists. 

When I see tourists eating in a restaurant, I'm prone to strike up a conversation with them to see what I can learn. Not much. It's basically the same as dealing with them at home, from what I can tell. Kids will be kids no matter where they go. A couple years ago I met a French family with two pre-school boys and two mountain bikes. They took the boys on their bicycles across Nepal. I met them in the late fall and they told me they'd be back in March to stay a bit in Bhaktapur. I didn't think I'd ever see them again, but sure enough, they came back through reporting that they had a great time. You've just got to admire the French!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Discovering Nepals Sustainable Agriculture

Discovering Nepal's Sustainable Agriculture
written by guest blogger Annie McLaughlin, Canada

Always wanting to explore the Himalayas and having just finished my formal education I was finally able to explore the country I dreamed about. I was even more eager to leave after putting my beds to sleep and getting a 3 foot snowfall after an incredible year of farming in Canada. It was amazing being able to come to a country where in a few hours time you can be in every kind of climate possible. From subtropical jungle to glacier ridges you can easily find everything here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Travel Traps and Drugs

I just heard a podcast on Democracy Now about a young, American woman's plight with police in East Timor and it reminded me of how so many come to Nepal, totally trusting that things will go well. They roll with most of what they travel into, but there are many, many traps that young people can fall into.
This is a familiar scene from the river near many temples.

A few years ago I hosted a traveler from the US who brought a few things for me from America. Although I was aware of the marijuana issues in Nepal, I had no idea about hard drugs here. Marijuana has been part of the Nepali culture for many generations and each year on Lord Shiva's birthday, generally celebrated in March, smoking marijuana is legal. However, the police are on the lookout a few days prior and Nepali who are caught with it can fall into problems. Tourists, too, can get caught up in it, so it's best to be very careful here about it. But it's plentiful and the majority of the young men are said to partake of 'ganja.' 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Guest Blog: A Deadly Trek in Nepal

My name is Evan and I've volunteered to add a post here about trekking in Nepal.  I can't be considered an expert since I've only done two treks here but this October I was involved in the worst (deadliest) trekking disaster in Nepal in 45 years.

My wife, Lisa, and I spent 10 days trekking the Annapurna circuit from Besi Sahar to the High Camp just below the 5400 meter Thurong La pass.  The evening before we planned to cross, it began to snow. Unbeknownst to us, there was the terrible storm, Hudhud, that had recently ravaged part of the Indian coastline and we were experiencing a bit of it as it moved inland and north.  Without any phones or internet for over a week, we didn't know that what began as a light snowfall would turn into a devastating blizzard with deadly consequences.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Doing Nepal a bit differently

Instead of staying in Thamel and taking a taxi where they want to go, there is a better way. This info is taken from information in my book, Nepal: A Tourist's Manual, eBook.

First, take a quadrant of the Kathmandu Valley to explore. Changunarayan/Bhaktapur, Kopan, Pharfing, Kirtipur. So book your room online for the first night or two. This usually gets you a free, or reduced, ride from the airport.
Changunarayan is nearby Bhaktapur, an ancient village that will give you more of a 'genuine' feel. Using this example, book your room at Star View Guest House & Retreat Center or another guest house in Changu. There are several things to do, from painting your own thangka to exploring the nearby villages that each have a unique flavor. There are also 2 museums to explore. It's really quiet, too.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Our Lovely Guest House & Retreat Center

Changunarayan Temple at sunset, from a distance
Most of my readers are aware of our retreat center project, but the details haven't been properly clarified. I hope this blog post serves as a bit of a 'walk-through.' Few are daring enough to come without seeing what they are getting themselves into.

First, the village. It's just so peaceful. The people live and dress like they have for generations and few over the age of 30 speak much English. However, most of the young people do speak English and at least a couple more languages, German and Japanese being among the most popular.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Is it time for surrogate parenting in Nepal?

I'd been contemplating this subject for awhile, surrogacy. Then I saw this article about surrogacy in Thailand: Sick surrogate baby abandoned It raised all the questions/issues that should have been addressed up front. Here in Nepal there is a group of women who would be excellent candidates for surrogacy; you could not find candidates in mainstream society.

I had been thinking especially about how ripe it is for helping gay couples have children. First, as I say in my eBook, Nepal: A Tourist's Manual Nepal makes for a great honeymoon destination for gay couples. There isn't much societal dialog about homosexuality and it is a common practice for men to hold hands and even touch each other in public, not that you will see anyone kissing, but there just isn't the same boundaries as in the West.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"What's life really like here in Nepal?" you ask.

People seldom know the question to ask, but there seems to be a communication gap when they mean to ask me “What are the differences between my life in the US and the day to day life I have now?” Unless you’ve gone abroad you have no idea what life is like here. The movies seldom portray third world countries, or the expats who live in them. So, movies either portray the wealthy class at the top of every poor country, or the local market-not much of anything else. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

How to Get a Package Mailed to You in Nepal

I needed something I just couldn’t find in Nepal, and therefore had to order something on the internet and had it mailed. It shouldn’t have been an ordeal to write home about.

Each year or so I need to have credit/debit cards sent to me and it usually costs at least $120 and this last time my brother put BA for Bagmati district in Nepal and it went to Basnia; it finally arrived. Another time I had it go to a friend in Kathmandu to his business, then I had it go to my other friend’s business in Changunarayan. These were the best plans, but I had to pay for FedX international rates for letters.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A little bit about Nepali Castes

The oldest stone tap of Changunarayan village and still in use.

Written by Sharmila Maharjan

The ancient temple of Changu Narayan is located on a high hilltop that is also known as Changu or Dolagiri. The temple is surrounded by forest with champak trees and a small village, known as Changunarayan Village. The temple is located in Changu Narayan, VDC of Bhaktapur District, Nepal. This hill is about 8 miles east of Kathmandu and a few miles north of Bhaktapur. This temple is considered the oldest Hindu temple in Nepal still in use.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Have We Missed the Window of Opportunity for Retiring Abroad?

There are a lot of us, we Americans/Europeans who thought with our hearts instead of our wallets. It was a time of plenty, but many of us missed out on the American and European dream. Others did it right, but had it all snatched away during the great real estate bubble scam that started this century. Yes, they sucked it all away from us and left us with small retirements and few possibilities of cashing in on anything from the West.