It’s been almost two weeks since I first came to Nepal. The country is still fascinating to me and everyday I feel like I’m overwhelmed with an unstoppable flow of information from nice, helpful, and simple-minded people of this country.
A few things I’ve noticed so far in Nepal:
– It’s a poor country. When I talk to the people here I couldn’t figure out why the country is poor when it has these smart, willing-to-learn, hardworking, and curious kids, and adults.
– Social ranking and gender inequality are obvious
– The gap between the rich and the poor is large
– The country doesn’t really have an industry that produces itself necessary products. For example, I went to a supermarket to buy some soaps, towels, and food to realize that most stuff is imported (from Malaysia, Vietnam, India, Philippines, South Korea and of course China).
– Nepali people prefer imported goods and clothes (Western styled clothes) while tourists coming here to buy handmade local products
– Power is cut off for a certain period of time daily
– Sunday is not an off-day
– Public buses are really scary. I mean, really scary, this is the best illustration for how poverty turns human lives into something cheap and invaluable.
– Tap water is nearly lethal and you should always drink bottled water.
– Most streets don’t have street lights.
– Punctuality is not really a thing here. People often delay things.
– People judge you based on your skin color. (So expect to pay more at tourist sites if you don’t have a “common face or skin color”)
– Monks I’ve seen so far seem rich.
– Be prepared to see and move together with humans, cars, rickshaws, bicycles, motorbikes, cows, and dogs on a same narrow dusty street in Nepal.
– Dogs sleep throughout daytime and become active when the night falls.
– The most confusing thing ever: when people turn their head from left to right, it means “yes” or “okay”
Some (big) changes in my daily life since I came here:
– Wake up at 6 am and start a new day at 7 am
– Go to bed before 11 pm
– I have to boil water in order to take a hot/warm shower. And to some who might want to know, I HAVE TO take a shower everyday regardless of the season. To some Nepali, it sounds strange because in this cold weather they just take a shower like 2-3 times per week.
– Eat more beans and potatoes and rice :D
– No more regular/excessive internet usage (no wifi coverage in my room and the internet connection is so bad everywhere…)
Some questions I’m asked almost everyday:
– Are you cold? (When people see me without a thick jacket: no, I’m not. I was also wearing like this during many cold autumns in Holland and felt just fine. My body temperature is higher than most people I guess and I prefer feeling a bit cold to feeling too warm with many layers of clothes, : P)
– Are you from Japan/China/Korea? (and then they’re surprised to know where I’m from. I guess there’re not many Vietnamese people around here)
– What kind of language do you speak in Vietnam? (So many people thought Vietnamese speak Chinese. This isn’t only the case in Nepal but also in other parts of the world where I’ve been to.)
I’m not sure if because of holding no expectations about Nepal before I came here, I find myself amazed at everything about this country. I spend weekdays working and volunteering and weekends traveling, so more updates on my Nepal adventures will be coming soon!