5 Lessons From Nepal
The chaotic city of Kathmandu teaches you quickly and without mercy.
I left Glasgow 11 days ago.
15 hours, 2 planes, countless customs and 1 lost laptop later I arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal.
For me, this journey symbolises the start of a globe-trotting adventure, with future plans to visit India, SE Asia, Australia, New Zealand & more.
Based on the recommendations of family and friends, I decided the only right way to start my journey would be with the mysterious, spiritual, awe-inspiring land of Nepal.
For an avid hiker such as myself, it’s Nirvana, the holy grail, the summit of all summits (literally).
So with dreams in my head and a bag on my back, I set off, and now I’m here — In Kathmandu.
There’s a lot to be said for my experience so far.
It’s certainly been eye-opening.
The culture and lifestyle here is far removed from what i’m used to in the UK.
Without further ado, here’s what to expect when visiting Kathmandu, Nepal.
Remember your driving test?
Remember all the rules, regulations, checking your wind mirrors, following road signs?
Yeah, forget all that. Throw it in the bin. It doesn’t matter anymore.
In Kathmandu, roads are lawless, shapeless, dangerous labyrinths.
I’m not being funny when I compare it to a real life Mario Kart; except this time there’s hundreds of thousands of players and instead of green shells it’s buses you have to avoid.
I can’t begin to explain how chaotic it is — no traffic lights, no road signs, no sign of structure apart from the occasional traffic warden incessantly blowing a whistle with, what appears to be, no real direction.
There’s only one rule on the roads here — don’t die.
And even amongst the chaos and confusion, it somehow works?
It seems that traffic ‘sorts itself’ if everyone abides to the unspoken agreement:
“I won’t kill you, if you don’t kill me”
It’s counterintuitive but it works, and there’s something about the madness that I just love.
If you visit Kathmandu, don’t whine and complain about the safety of it all, just get involved in the chaos.
I’m a 6ft1 (at least that’s what my Tinder profile says) white guy from Scotland. Therefore, in somewhere like Kathmandu, I stick out like a sore thumb and encounter abnormal interactions daily:
- Small children will approach me, ask me my name, and occasionally tell me ‘I’m too white’
- Drunk strangers will talk to me on the bus to ask me about my adventures in Nepal
- Almost everyone stares, glances or even gossips about you as you pass them on the street
It’s an interesting dynamic to occupy.
On one hand I’m just trying to get about my day, but on the other i’m the new foreigner everyone’s excited to talk to.
And no, not everyone’s trying to sell you something (although some are) — sometimes they’re just genuinely interested in a conversation and hope to wish you have a good time in their country.
If you visit Kathmandu, expect stares, expect conversation, expect interactions.
You are the exciting foreigner after all.
Entertain it a little.
You Are God In Their House
The Nepalese are some of the friendliest, warmest, most giving human beings i’ve ever met.
I live with a Nepalese family and I’m not joking when I say, you’re literally God in their house (my host’s words, not mine). For example:
- They’ll prepare you tea at any given moment.
- They’ll refuse to let you clean up after yourself.
- They’ll make you meals and wait on you hand on foot.
- They’ll take you on tours and guide you around the city without expecting anything in return.
The giving becomes so apparently generous when you realise how little they have in the first place. Down to their last pot of rice, they’ll offer you extra before they have their first.
And it’s not just food, it’s everything, they’re always looking to help.
If you visit Nepal, expect a warm welcome.
You won’t be disappointed by the hospitality of the locals.
Moving from Glasgow to Nepal has been a positive shock to the system; my money can stretch much further and provide me with a standard of living I could only dream of in the UK.
I’ve only been here 10 days, so I can only speak for what I’ve experienced so far, but here’s some notable examples:
- Espresso — £0.85
2. Breakfast meal (eggs, sausages, hash browns, salad, toast) with coffee — £2.30
3. Bus fare — £0.16
4. Rent for the month — £200
5. Doctors Visit and consultation — £10
It’s evidently clear how much more affordable a good standard of living is here, in comparison to somewhere like the UK.
Realising the affordability of living abroad has only furthered my passion to pursue a digital nomad lifestyle.
Why struggle in the UK when I can live like a king abroad?
Why should you?
If you’re on a shoestring budget then taking the bus in Nepal is your best option. Unfortunately, that cheap price comes with a cost. That cost is being packed tighter than a tin of sardines on to a hot sweaty bus that doesn’t give a fuck about your comfort.
Here’s standard procedure on the buses here:
- Once all the seats are filled, they’ll start to line the standing area
2. Then they’ll start to push you to the back of the bus to squeeze more people on
3. Then they’ll somehow squeeze more people on.
4. Then when you think it can’t possibly get any fuller, they’ll squeeze more people on.
5. Rinse and repeat
I’m talking ass in your face, elbows in your ribs, legs between your legs, a stranger sweatily breathing on your face full.
Limit is simply not a word in the vocabulary of the locals.
You will fit.
It’s certainly an experience that you should try at least once but after that maybe resign yourself to the back of a motorbike or a taxi.
My time in Nepal so far has been challenging, difficult, amazing, exciting, invigorating, inspiring & so much more.
I’ve still to explore all of what this great country has to offer and I can’t wait to venture in to the Himalayas to truly soak up a different speed of Nepali lifestyle.
If you’re visiting Nepal, you’ll most likely land in Kathmandu and explore the city for a couple days before migrating to the countryside.
Expect everything i’ve mentioned & more.
The only way to truly experience Nepal is to visit yourself.
P.S If you’d like to keep up with my travels across Nepal, give my Instagram a follow.