Lessons Learned: Living in Nepal

Forty things you should know after living or traveling in Nepal.

1) There is no such thing as a rat or roach free hostel.

2) Cockroaches, although startling at times, are not aggressive at all.  (Learn to love them, especially in monsoon season).

3) How to properly haggle.  (Start low, but not too low).

4) The body language of someone who wants to cheat you.

5) The proper way to take a walk through the streets of Kathmandu without letting the street children, beggars, touts, salesmen, garbage, stray dogs, drug dealers, rickshaw drivers, and trekking guides bother me. (Note: It’s all about a strong and harsh: “NO!”)

6) The joys of tea, especially Nepalese milk tea. (Yum!)

7) When to tell a white lie. (For example: Suspicious person on the street at night: “Are you alone?” Me: “No, my husband is right back there.”)

8 ) How much most things really cost. (Note: for anyone who is not Nepali, prices are doubled, tripled, or quadrupled, therefore, bargaining is a must).

9)How to balance and hold on for dear life while riding one of Kathmandu’s ubiquitous rickshaws.

10) How to survive the frequent power outages of Nepal. (Note: keep flashlight and candles close at hand!)

11) How to get the street kids off your trail. (Feign complete disinterest).

12) How to maneuver through the insanity of Kathmandu streets.?(Always watch out for potholes, ditches and stray dogs!)

13) How to capture cockroaches whom have taken it upon themselves to nest in one’s bag. (Note: the tried and true “capture-under-the-garbage-pail-put-a-piece-of-paper-underneath-and-drag-outside” method works best.)

14) How to sleep on rock hard mattresses and make your hostel room feel “lived in.”

15) How to shower in ice cold showers. (Note: In and out as QUICKLY as possible. Also, soap and shampoo NOT standing under frigid waters).

16) That eating museli in your bed is not a good idea. (Note: this brings on phalanxes of ants.)

17) How to tell a Nepali person from a Tibetan person.?(Often different style of dress and different facial features).

18) How to not have a heart attack when hearing the blaring horn of the local buses. (Takes some time to get used to).

19) How to get all the worms out of the rambutan before eating. (Note: they burrow into the pit so check where the tree twig connects with the fruit skin. There are always a few lurking here, but if you miss some, don’t worry: extra protein.)

20) How to take the bus long distances.

21) That it is not possible to simultaneously itch 35 mosquito bites, so its better to just give up while ahead.

22) That when drinking yak butter tea with the monks it is better to think of it as soup.

23) That eating dal bhat with your hands is much more fun than with a spoon and fork!

24) Where to find all the best foods from the street vendors.

25) That swatting 40 flies off you at once is impossible and exhausting, so its better to just let them eat the crumbs of whatever off your skin.

26) To walk on the other side of the street from gangs of street kids huffing glue.

27) How to say: “No, I do not want that Tiger balm, necklace, socks, hat, incense, marijuana, hashish, underwear, violin, pottery, thanka, or purse thank you” with confidence. (Note: insert appropriate item for each salesperson.)

28) How to tell a real sadhu from a fake one. (If they ask for money or encourage you to take their photo, they might be faux holy men).

29) How to sit discreetly on a street corner to watch the street life without being asked 25 times if I am lost.

30) That seeing a monk dressed in maroon and gold robes riding a motorcycle and talking on his cell phone is not as strange as I initially thought. (Still amusing though.)

31) That the garbage/sanitation system of Kathmandu is good in theory, but a failure in practice.

32) That some people (locals) are resentful about the foreign presence.

33) That the Nepal “hills” look more like looming mountains to me and the “mountains” are gigantic beyond all reason.

34) That the greeting here is not “How are you?” but “Have you eaten?”

35) How to tell a rabid dog (and how to run away from it).

36) How to live out of a backpack. (It is surprising how little we really need!)

37) How to deal with the famous Nepali leeches. (Don’t pull them off after they’ve started sucking. It is better to burn them off with a lighter or give them a quick sprinkling with salt. Shrivels those bad boys right up).

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