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Trekking in Nepal- Expectations Vs. Reality

The following is an extremely crude but funny generalization of the experience while Trekking in Nepal. Touchy-Peeve, God-fearing, Carlin-hating PC Police are recommended to stop reading right now.

Expectation: Walking up the Himalayas is going to be as easy as scrolling through my Instagram Feed.

Tired Hikers
Instagram this!!! PC: Azlan Dupree, Flickr.

REALITY | While everyone wishes to see the peaks they have seen in Instagram posts and glossy magazines, very few realize that it takes a certain amount of effort to get up there.

And the effort required is directly proportionate to the altitude and inversely proportional to mental calmness. Just Breathe!!

Also remember that a vacation in the Himalayas is not bought, but earned. 🙂

Expectation: Nepalis are extremely friendly.

There is a lot of friendliness inside that Great Himalaya Snot.

REALITY | Nepalis are extreeeeeeemeeeely friendly. They are so friendly that they will never say “No” to you. After all, the whole country is driven by the motto “Atithi Devo Bhava” or “Guests are Gods.” And who would dare say “No” to the gods?

Jokes aside, don’t expect something to happen just because somebody has said so. They might have been ‘just kind.’ Understand this and act accordingly.

Expectation: Everything will go clockwork just like back home.

Mule dusting itself in Manaslu
Sometime there might be a delay because the mule refused to get up. K Garne?

REALITY | Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. This is especially true of trekking in Nepal as Nepal is a Country in Progress. The only way to take care of this is to plan your trek flexibly and have an open mind.

While you battle hard to follow the exact itinerary that you originally had, it might turn out that there isn’t much you can do about the unpredictable Himalaya weather or a landslide that blocks off the road.

You will perhaps see some wisdom in the fatalistic Nepali catch line, “K Garne?” or “What can we do after all?”

Plan your Trek to Nepal.

Expectation: It is important to dress modestly in Nepal.

REALITY | Walk down any street in Kathmandu, and you will see legs, cleavage, and navel of all sizes and color. And along the trekking routes, yoga pants leave little to the imagination. This is true as much of the Nepalis now as it is of the visitors.

The advice to dress modestly might still be relevant for the really rural parts of Nepal. However, along popular trekking routes, there is enough skimpy clothing going around for people to get uncomfortable by your shorts.

There is even a topless trek in Nepal right now. And it is situated right next to the place called “Don’t get your hopes too high, you dumb ass.” 😛

Expectation: 2:00 pm means 2:00 pm

Remember, in the realm of Gods, time is just an illusion.

REALITY | 2:00 pm could be 2:15 pm or 2:30 pm or even 3:00 pm depending upon the altitude, temperature, road condition, speed of light, and mood of the person you were supposed to meet at 2:00 pm. Just don’t get mad about it. K Garne?

Expectation: 20 minutes = 20 minutes.

How long do you think it will take to get to this village?

REALITY | “How long is it to Namche?”, you ask a dude along the trail as you cross that 100-meter suspension bridge. “Half an hour,” comes the quick reply. One and a half hour later, you are still panting up that bitch of a climb.

Do not take issue at it as it mostly results from good intentions. It could either be that the one you put the question to can walk much faster or just doesn’t want to demoralize you with a 3-hour estimate when a polite “15 minute” could send you running off all upbeat.

Expectation: I don’t know anyone in Nepal. Will I be okay?

Nepali Family
Secret: Nepal is actually one huge joint family. PC: https://pixabay.com/en/joy-nepal-festival-people-1315543/

REALITY | Everybody is related to everybody else in Nepal. When you get here, this will apply to you too. You will find your long lost family in Nepal.

For example, two people who have just met for the first time hit it off with Dai (Elder Brother) and Bhai (Younger Brother). Also popular are Aama (Mother), Buwa (Father) Didi (Elder Sister), Bahini (Younger Sister), Baaje (Grandfather), Bajai (Grandmother), Mama (Maternal Uncle) and also more recently Uncle and Aunty.

Feel free to join the one big happy family. Just don’t say Swasni or Budi (wife) to anyone.

Plan your Trek to Nepal.

Expectation: I get to dine wherever I want.

Rajesh Dai
It is a “eat where you stay” deal at the lodges. Enforced by the national icon, Rajesh Dai.

REALITY | It is a “eat where you stay deal” at the lodges while trekking in Nepal. While it sounds weird to most first-time visitors, this practice is the norm in the trekking regions. Most lodges give out their rooms for a paltry sum and make up the difference from the food and drinks.

If you dine someplace else, it might turn out that the lodge owner will charge you a rather hefty sum for the accommodation. Make sure to clear this issue out beforehand.

No such restrictions exist in Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Expectation: Nepal is this mysterious land and I as Indiana Jones am going to put it on the world map.

Cafe Danphe at Namche
Visit the Cafe Danfe Bar at Namche Bazaar, and the world along with the map will start spinning.

REALITY | Such expectations would have been correct in the more popular regions of Everest and Annapurna about 50 years ago and might still be true in a lot of less popular treks.

However, it has been more than half a century since commercial trekking started in Nepal. During this period Nepal has made a transition from a forbidden Shangri La to a hashish haven for hippies to a budget destination for backpackers to a mid-range destination. Unfortunately,  lot of marketing copy from travel companies needs to play catch up with the times.

In other words, you can expect beer, lasagna, heated mattress, 4G network, and fluffy carpets all the way up to 5,000 meters. 🙂

Expectation: I am going to try all the local food while in Nepal.

Newari Food at Lahana
Newari Food.

REALITY | While Nepal has an incredible variety of food, chances are very high that you will experience some form of diarrhea while in Nepal. It is just your guy getting used to the ‘different’ kind of bacteria, and most symptoms will subside within a few days. Our advice: Take it easy for the first week. After that go all in on the local fare. 🙂

However, remember to be very picky about the water.

Expectation: I need to be super fit to trek in Nepal.

REALITY | Nepal has treks of varying levels of difficulty and most reasonably fit people can accomplish them.

As you prepare for your trek, whatever you do, do not skip on your squats!!! See video above.

Plan your Trek to Nepal.

Expectation: I will meet a lot of local people, eating local food, wearing local clothes, and doing local things.

A Hindu Priest of a Dirt Bike.
A Hindu Priest on a Dirt Bike.

REALITY | You are more likely to see Hindu priests zoom past on dirt bikes than meet people from your la la land.

The level of foreign exposure in Nepal considerable. This is due in large part to an open media and the fact that about 10 percent of the population of Nepal work overseas.

That said there are still certain parts of the country that might fit the bill, but those are more like exceptions that prove the rule.

Expectation: I get to choose the lodges.

Look at Me!!!
Look at Me!!!

REALITY | Your guide will choose the lodges for you. If you wish to select lodges to your own liking, make this clear beforehand.

The reason for this weird arrangement is that both large trekking companies and guides have arrangements with select lodges, whereby lodge owners get a steady business and companies and guides are guaranteed rooms and discounts.

If you wish to book lodges on your own, you can do so through HoneyGuide. 🙂

Plan your Trek to Nepal.

Expectation: Nepali people hate India.

REALITY | Nepalis have a deep-seated resentment towards India the Big Brother. But Nepalis love Indian music, food, goods, cars, movies, TV series, actresses and actors.

Just don’t call a Nepali, Indian or say how similar Nepal is to India.

_______

Let us know at honeyhunter@honeyguideapps.com if any of your Expectations were put to rest while Trekking in Nepal. 🙂

Happy Trails!!

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