How to Explore Nepal like a Local

Kelly Samuel Photography - Pema Ts'al Sakya Tibetan Monastery, Nepal.

In February of 2017, I travelled to Nepal on a work trip + vacation. I was so flipping excited before we got there just because of National Geographic - Leafing through my Grandpa's Nat Geo collection was literally one of the only ways to starve boredom while we were visiting in Sudbury.

That kind of birthed my childhood dream of being published in National Geographic one day, and probably curbed the photojournalistic nature of my photos. I hope you enjoy, and hey, NG, if you're listening, hit me up.

Here's the rundown from my trip. I'll get back to this badass photo above a little later on.

This is a dish called "momos". It's a dumpling that is that's typically filled with buffalo and steamed, served with "pickle" on the side, which is like a spicy dipping sauz. I had the veggie kind and they were also super dope. They actually originated in Tibet, but the flavours were adapted accordingly by the Nepalese. Probably one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten, and they're available just about anywhere. If you're not a vegetarian, order "buff momos, steamed".

These were made by a co-worker of mine, Prashant and his lovely wife Renuka. Connor (my boyfriend) and I tried to make some too, but it was way trickier than it looked.

These are mani wheels, or prayer wheels. Also originating from Tibet, these gorgeous spindles are made of a metal, wood, cotton and leather. On the inside are thousands of mantras - the idea is, you spin it and reap the benefits x times.

This was our ONE AND ONLY glimpse at The Himalayas. When I was 16, my favourite thing to say when I got stressed was that I was moving to the Himalayas. Watch out, mom. It's kind of awesome. Word of advice, try to check the weather before you go. It was so foggy while we were here that we could barely see anything.

This is traditional Tibetan butter tea, made with brick tea (Pu'erh). It's bitter, and salty, and I think I hated it haha. I've heard it's an acquired taste, I had two cups and I would definitely try it again. It's make with yak butter, one of the most important resources to the Tibetan people. When Tibet came under occupation, a lot of refugees fled to Nepal, so this staple can be found in Tibetan settlements there. This was apart of an incredible Tibetan encounter tour that took us to a few places.

This is the actual brick tea - ya'll know I like tea. It had a really pungent earthy smell. Here's a link if you'd like to try it:

This is Rinpoche, a Tibetan monk that we were so honoured to have spent some time chatting with. He had a smile that was so genuine that it kind of freaked me out. Such a lovely human. This was also apart of the Tibetan encounters tour.

This, was a holy-shit moment. So we just finished our chat with Rinpoche, and we just happened to be there as they were preparing for a photograph of the entire Monastery. I couldn't pass this up.

Kelly Samuel Photography - Pema Ts'al Sakya Tibetan Monastery, Nepal.

This is the Pema Ts'al Sakya Monastic Institute, February 2017. This is my favourite photo I've ever taken.

This is Phewat lake, in Pokhara. You can rent these paddle boats and travel on to the island in the middle, which has a temple on it. You will also be harassed endlessly by the Tibetan merchants selling jewellery here, which you should ACTUALLY buy.

Turns out that the Tibetan refugees can't legally work, or own land. They have no means of bringing in income, and they've been there since 1950. That's 68 years, yo. Buy the damn jewellery. Then go for a canoe ride (don't get the lifejackets, they're not mandatory, live a little).

Pro-tip: bring a handsome bearded man with you to paddle the boat while you take photos

Paragliding is bananas! If there is a single thing you take away from this blog, try this! I'm so afraid of heights, but this was so relaxing it was bizarre. You don't jump off of a cliff, it's more like you're walking down a hill, and then you're airborne! So exhilarating.

So we went with Team 5 Nepal Paragliding, which I don't recommend - they charged us 10,000 rupees/person ($120 CAD) when they quote 8,500 online, and we waited for over an hour. My guide also didn't speak a word to me until we were about to get into the air, and he kind of resembled a Bollywood villain which confirmed my suspicions. It's okay though, because I almost accidentally vomited on him.

This is the view from Sarangkot. Sarangkot, is overrated.

This is Connor before 3 jumbo tour buses pulled up to watch the sunrise from Sarangkot. We had a cozy, very quiet corner to ourselves, and within a matter of minutes we were elbow to elbow with loud tourists. If I could do it again, I would rent a villa or a bed and breakfast that was nearby, and I would bring my robe and watch the sunrise while encased in a goddamn fluffy robe coffin because DANG IT IS COLD BEFORE THE SUN RISES.

This is pure ecstasy AKA me eating kulfi - which is kind of life ice cream, but better. Kind of like a flavoured yogurt, served in a clay pot. I finished this and bought another directly afterwards while our friends had their backs turned. I would eat this until I die. Definitely try it.

So we visited an art institute while we were in Bhaktapur (visual art is one of my majors), and I was really intrigued by these geometric mandalas. This was particularly bananas as it was made of grains of rice.

This image was taken in Kathmandu, Nepal. There's a gigantic manmade pond there that gets fished once a year. Somehow we were in the right place at the right time again.

This is a goddamn warning. The monkeys are cute, and they will also steal anything. I was getting close to take a photo when this bastard bit me. Not hard enough to break skin (I promise, mom) but hard enough for me to drop the slice of coconut I was holding. Don't get too close - they are seriously mischievous as hell. Look at unrivalled look of savagery in his eyes. No regrets.

On the other hand, here is a perfect angel. Turns out that goats are cuddly, and they also smile and nuzzle your neck when you pick them up. Locals will also smile and let you walk around their yard because Nepalese people are the nicest people.

So we went white water rafting with a resort outside of Kathmandu, and it was excellent! Our guide was very knowledgeable and the facilities were in the middle of rolling hills and mountains. Super beautiful, would recommend. I can't find the info for this, but I promise to update once I get it.

I hope this was helpful! Hit me up with questions or comments below. Happy traveling!

#travel #nepal #food

Welcome to my blog! I write about digital marketing trends for Forbes, I play in an indie band in Toronto, and I like to travel around the world. I dig sustainable living, ice cream, good books, cigars & lipstick.
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