You live and you learn. Even better when you can learn from others experiences. Neat little shortcut.
Here are 5 things you can learn about Nepal from my experiences.
1. Tea houses have no service staff
As a hotelier I found this very interesting. Indians are so used to getting VIP treatment at restaurants. We expect food to not only be brought to our tables but served in our plate as well. The Westerners are used to self-service, we are not.
In every tea house we went to, our Sherpa would come and note down our order and bring it from the kitchen to our table when the food was ready.
There were no waiters. We had no contact with the tea house owner / manager. Our Sherpa was our point of contact and he would communicate it to them and vice versa.
Pretty low overhead system for the property owner.
2. Pay to charge your electronic devices
I paid 500 Nepalese at the tea house in Namche Bazaar. That was the first and last time I paid to charge my phone.
Mar jayenge par paise nahi denge phone charge karne ke liye.
The Nepalese are smart. They have designed the rooms with no sockets. Kar lo jo karna hai!
You want to charge your batteries, you have to go to the reception desk.
Tip: Carry your power bank and charge that instead. More bang for your buck. Even better, carry a solar charger.
3. Currency exchange is a big hassle
The currency exchange counter at the airport refused to take Indian bills. Somehow we managed to get a small amount exchanged with the help of our trek operator.
Shopkeepers told us that they are being fined if they are found accepting Indian notes. Specially 500 INR notes. What?
I don't know what the reason was - maybe political, maybe to trace fake currency but if it wasn't for the help of our trek operator we would have no way to survive.
Most debit cards weren't working as the OTP would reach your Indian SIM which won't be functioning there.
Tip: Carry a credit card.
4. Getting to and out of Lukla is extremely unpredictable
We were on Island Peak summit on October 6th and had reached Lukla on October 8th. We didn't reach Kathmandu till the night of October 11th to catch our flights the next day. Even keeping 1 entire week post summit was almost not enough.
I know of dozens of trekkers who missed their flights back home because they didn't keep enough buffer to return to Kathmandu.
Weather in Lukla only opens up, if and when it does for a brief period in the morning. The good weather window is so small that it cannot accommodate all waiting tourists.
Tip: Keep a minimum of 4 days of buffer for your return journey from Lukla to Kathmandu. Book flexible tickets.
5. Food to die for
If you are a non-vegetarian you will not want to come back. But, even for vegetarians the variety, taste and freshness of food was amazing. You could order a different item from the breakfast menu on your entire trek and there will be still items left for you to choose from. The tea houses spoil you silly when it comes to food.
I guess they have to appeal to the taste palettes of trekkers from various parts of the world and it clearly shows in their offerings.
The famous Dal Bhaat thaali does justice to its fame. A bunch of us couldn't keep our hands of 'buff' - buffalo meat.
Most of my protein bars made their way back home. Usually I would eat a couple on the trek daily to compensate for average meals. Not in Nepal.
Tip: Travel light when it comes to food and supplements