Thursday, April 6, 2017

Tattoo convention of Kathmandu

Although I've tried to get to the annual tattoo convention in Kathmandu for years now, this was the first year I actually made it. Two years ago I was on my way to the convention along with a couple of our guests and Kamal's son, Kiran when the earthquake struck. This year I was determined to get there and I'm really glad that I did.



I was surprised that the location wasn't marked well and we had to ask for directions along the way. The exhibition center was modern and well lit with several rows of stalls. The tattoo artists were from all over the world and many of the tattoo artists were covered with their artwork.



As I walked passed the stalls I spoke with several artists. This is a personal issue so it's important to feel comfortable with the artist. As it turned out, I found my way back to an artist from Spain and spoke with her briefly a second time. She just felt right and had time for me. Maria was excited to do my tattoo, as she had just had her first reiki attunement; I wanted a small reiki symbol. It felt like a synchronicity that she also had a connection to reiki.
Reiki symbols aren't displayed so I cannot show it.

Maria and her boyfriend had produced a short movie that the convention showed. The movie portrayed 21 people in masks who had clamps pierced through their skin and lifted in a carousel-type apparatus and spun in a rather gothic manor. It depicted this unique human art-form and was quite interesting. I told Maria about our upcoming festival whereby a Nepali man has a rod pierced through his tongue and then proceeds to pull a chariot with a god within.  Both she and her boyfriend, also a tattoo artist, were quite interested.


If you plan to come to Nepal in March/April be sure to check to see when this annual convention is going to be here. The tattoos are quite inexpensive and start from only 4,000 NRs. Although about twice the price as in Kathmandu in the local establishments, it is still a bargain over Western prices.

My eBook is available now at https://payhip.com/b/sQu5 If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. 

Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you get my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. http://bit.ly/2aGxcuHIf there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 

Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2 


Connect on social media: Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe @NGOchangu Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frugal.travels 



Friday, March 31, 2017

How Not to Ask for Money When Money is Desperately Needed



It’s the hardest thing to do for me, ask for money. Even when someone stays at the guest house I try to give as much value as possible. Some of these travelers have such a small budget they even skip meals-in Nepal! If you can’t afford to eat in Nepal or India you probably need a better plan for traveling. I really admire them for going after all the adventure they can get before settling down.

I budget about $200 a month for our agency and to help our village from my own funds. That covers administration expenses and it’s a real pleasure to help. We also provide a free room for volunteers, which is an annual expense of a few thousand more in ‘in-kind’ donations. We also have a dedicated room for our agency that the kids enjoy as a library/reading room and classroom. Our volunteers just pay for food if they can. Last week we had a couple who only ordered one dinner. We gave them half price so both could eat.
When we get clothing we separate the lighter clothing for the women here and send the heavy items to the mountains. 

It kept coming up, how to get enough money to do more than just run the NGO monthly costs. I want to do more. There is the hilltop at the temple with several trees having exposed roots. It’s just a matter of time before it landslides, so it has to be fixed ASAP. The sad thing is it would only cost a few hundred dollars to make it look lovely and be secure. Yes, I’m sure it will come out of one of my ‘oh so deep pockets.’
Our lovely guests leave money, warm clothing and even used laptop computers. Even people who have never been to Nepal help us with our computer issues from home. We have a friend who is encouraging our women’s group and that project is finally just about ready to launch. We are so grateful.
We have 4 women who are looking forward to working in our women's workshop. 

Our new plan: We’ve recently joined an affiliate website that is providing us with a platform to teach the local, young people while generating some funding. It’s so simple to use. Even though it is a busy website, once you get the layout it’s pretty easy to navigate. The tutorials and chat features are quite beneficial. I hope many of our former volunteers and our supporters will sign up to give this website a try. I think it will prove to be an excellent source of travel money for you and will help our agency, as well.

I know a lot of these internet marketing sites are scams, but this site doesn’t have products, so they can’t get you for more than the monthly membership and there’s no long-term contract. A person could even continue the free account until they see how it would work for them or keep it forever free. During the intro offer they can upload their own websites that they learn to make. 

Here's what you get before you ever need to pay:
·        Free Sign-up
·        Get 2 free websites with free hosting
·        Access basic online training; learn to create your own websites, get them SEO ready and create content.

·        Help and encouragement via community discussions and community support.

I offer it here for anyone to try. I think we get $1 when someone signs up for a free account. Get started free and get the help you need by clicking on our link:  http://bit.ly/2mWsWgL

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Cottage Industry in is Alive and Well in Nepal


Life in Changunarayan Village goes on much as it did in centuries gone by. Women carry water and wash their clothes and even bathe at the community tap.

When there is a problem, like India closing the road to Nepal for fuel and medicine, people in the villages often take it in stride. Life is harder, but life here in the village looks pretty much the same as on normal days. Random bird and goat sounds can be heard in the distance and people are out and about as early as 5 am.


People wonder about the artists and craftsmen who make such amazing art as the Tibetan style thangka paintings. Many of these painting take months to complete, which allows many craftsmen to stay in the villages to work from home. After more than a month the artist will hand carry his work to the Kathmandu Valley, hand delivering it to the retail outlet and collecting his pay. This is the way it is at our school, too. 


Changunarayan’s Sunapati thangka painting school has over 20 students living and studying here, but after they complete their studies they will have the option of returning to the village and earn a good living.

There is a felt workshop and a hand carved mask workshop here in the village and one can often see carpet and pashmina being woven in small workshops along the road on the way to our village.

Women knitting hats and gloves are common sights. Pre-school children play nearby as the mothers chat as they knit. The little bit they earn enriches the family and often helps to pay school fees for the older children.

Suddenly, you’ll notice the women are not knitting and the small factories may even close for a few days. The women can be found out in the field planting or harvesting. The fields come alive as families work together to get the farm work finished. The tiny plots of land are sometimes the size of a room.

Particularly after a natural disaster, people wonder how to help. Purchasing from these factories or cottage industry workers is an important way to help Nepal. If you just send money the social worker and many other people will take some of the money, which is fine because getting money flowing is a big part of healing an economy, but not much will end up going for supplies and labor for the project. Even in the West, this is a problem. I remember reading that the Red Cross only released 5 million dollars after collecting almost a billion after Haiti’s earthquake.


Whether you are looking for a special Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or another celebration, Nepali art remains one of the best values on the planet for uniqueness, quality, and price.

You can look find some lovely, custom pieces at our lovely, affiliate website http://TraditionalArtofNepal.com

Our Offer: If you have an idea of something you'd like, just give us an idea of the medium and price you want to pay. We'll add our expense of our shopper and up to 25% for our agency. However, we cap the 25% at $75. So if something cost wholesale $300 our cost would be around $85, or $385 total. If something cost $400 you would only pay $85 commission and expenses plus shipping. 

Shipping rates can be quite expensive if your item is brass, but here is an idea of the shipping costs. 1/2 kilo will cost $35 max. plus about $5 for each 1/2 kg of additional weight for 5 day UPS/DHL or about half that if you want slower time. 

We will send you several pictures of items we find and if you approve we'll go back and get the one you like, wrap it and ship it. But you will always have a chance to see what we've found for you before we ship it, or before you even have to pay. It's all 100% guaranteed to be what you want or just send it back and we'll eat the shipping cost. We have Paypal and a merchant account, so if we have anything but 100% satisfaction Paypal or our merchant bank will make sure we do have your needs in mind. We've been doing thangka and mask shipping with our partner website for 4 years and have never had a complaint. All the banking is through me, so we always take care of our customers' needs in a timely fashion.

_________________________________________________________________

Here’s our offer/gift for our readers. Our NGO/nonprofit agency, Kay Garnay for Nepal, has an excellent shopper who can shop for you. She can shop for singing bowls, quality brass work, pashmina and other textiles, etc. The best part of having her shop for you is that we cap the price at $75 maximum over wholesale (plus shipping).  Most of the prices online reflect a price that’s much higher. This will give you over 50% discount over market value while creating a job and exporting Nepali handicrafts. Just drop us a line at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com




My eBook is available now at https://payhip.com/b/sQu5 (Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2  If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder things like if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. 

Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you get my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. http://bit.ly/2aGxcuH If there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 

 

If you'd like to connect on social media with me here's   how: 

Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe or @NGOChangu
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frugal.travels 




Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Swostinika Ko Puja Festival


We had a lovely surprise yesterday. 12 pilgrims coming for this Swostinika Ko Puja Festival came to stay with us at the Star View Guest House for the night. We could only take about 12 guests, but many others stayed overnight with local villagers. This morning everyone enjoyed puja at the nearby pine forest.

This festival is one only for serious devotees of Shiva and Prabati. The devotees wear no shoes and only the red robes. They literally eat only once a day without salt, take only cold baths in the river and walk during this 30 day pilgrimage. They walk barefoot from Pharfing, all the way on the other side of the Kathmandu Valley, to Pashupatinath and then to Changunarayan and then to Saku.


Why would anyone do such a thing? The reasons vary, but they all have one thing in common. They have a strong desire for a blessing. This pilgrimage offers an amazing opportunity to demonstrate to the gods that they are truly serious with their wish. From days gone by until now this is a proven way to get the gods' attention.

In these pictures you can see a pole and a little fire and incense at the base of the pole. The pitcher represents the god with many items for worship nearby. One might expect the devotees of such a difficult month to be sad and downcast, but quite the opposite is the case. In fact, it is a Hindu belief that one must smile and be as happy as if the blessing has already been received. You can find a mirror at every Hindu temple so devotees can check to see if they are happy enough to receive.

The meaning of Swostinika Ko regards telling of a story. In this case it can be thought of as the devotees gaining access to Shiva and Pravoti, Ganesh's parents, to tell their story. From this puja the devotees will be able to gain a listening ear of these two deities. We have admiration for anyone this devoted to their god. A few months ago Birbahadur, our next door neighbor, did a pilgrimage and his life took a lovely turn. We know for all of these devotees that their wishes are being answered, too. And so blessed they are!












Thursday, February 2, 2017

Dolpa District Problems


Written by Pema Tsering Gurung

Dolpa is one of the biggest and most isolated districts of Nepal. It is located at the northernmost part of Nepal's Himalayas and borders with Tibet. This district is very sparsely inhabited with a population of around 30,000. People consider Dolpa as 'the land of the hidden.'     

People of Dolpa are called Dolpa-le as their mother-tongue language is similar to the Tibetan inhabitants who live in the Himalayas of 3,000-7,500 meters. The main occupations for them are agriculture and animal husbandry. But this isn't enough to support them for a whole year. So, those inhabitants rely on trade to get additional goods for their household. In summer the men go to Tibet with their yak caravans whereas the women stay in the village with the female goats and yak where they produce butter and cheese. However, in winter most of the people leave their main village and go to other places such as Kathmandu where they go for pilgrimages and to meet their relatives. Bon-po and Buddhism are two major religions which people follow over there. These are the people who statistically earn less than a dollar a day.

Dolpa is one of the most disadvantaged regions of Nepal where the people struggle with food, clothing and education. Illiteracy rates are high and education facilities are sparse. Education and  development are further behind than its most places in Nepal and  going to school is considered rather a luxury. Educational infrastructure can be worthwhile in such places and needed so badly. Without an education the people are ill equipped to live outside the village. The aims to provide worthwhile education to the children of Tashi Sumdho Primary School is one example of a village in high need of help. It is located in the Village Development Committee in Bijer which got established in 2011 A.D.  lately by the co-ordination of  VDC and village community, some individual support and some government support lately.

Until today, there is no any access of road in the entire district of Dolpo. This is so remote that when people need to go to Kathmandu to register a birth, etc. that they say they 'are going to Nepal.' This area is so remote it takes a 9 day trek from the south and then 1 day by airplane from Jhupal and then a day by local bus from Nepalgunj to reach Kathmandu. There are hardly a health centre  or hospital in the area. 

The quality of education is really poor and most of them have the school education only through primary grades (5th grade). However, Tashi Sumdho Primary School affords students with only for pre-primary level to grade 3. Similarly, there are no I-NGOs or NGOs up until now who can provide support to the school of Ku village. This is the village I came from and would therefore like to help find funding for it.


Firstly, it is economically and geographical hard for the children over there to access education. As I have mentioned above, agriculture and animals husbandry are two most major occupations for the inhabitants to feed themselves. We can find people who are unaware of the values of a modern education. Instead of this, they will send their children to collect Yarchagumba (name of herbal medicine) and use their children as household helpers to bring wood, and water, and work in the family's animal husbandry business. Even though people in the Dolpa area may value education Ku village still has little to offer in education.

Secondly, there are few health centres in the region, not even a facility for giving birth, so the mortality rate is one of the highest in the world. However, they have some health centres in other areas of Dolpa, but people lack the eduction about own health. Without education regarding health and hygiene people often discover their illnesses in the final stage where there can't be any solution for it. On the other hand , we can see Tibetan doctors (Amchi) playing a vital role for such places. Similarly, people in Ku village need to depend upon next village, Bijer, where they can go for basic first aid treatment. Many people in Dolpo are losing their lives in the absence of health centres and hospitals.

Tashi Sumdho Primary School is the small primary School that is located in the hidden land of Ku Village. As residents in Ku village are uneducated and without income sources, management and direction of that school is really poor and unstable. Currently, the school management is searching for someone who can support the school in building rooms for classroom and provide educational materials (books, paper, pencils, etc). The village is also in need of help in the health sector as education and health should be available for everybody.

Tashi Sumdho Primary School is providing tuition free education for 40 students where they appointed 3 teachers for those children up to grade 3. The children's family needs to give 5 kg of rice, lintel, vegetables and so on per a month for putting their children into school where it's not even enough, as well. The school contains 4 rooms where 2 rooms are used as classrooms, one is for kitchen and one for office purposes. The school is giving lessons in three languages, Tibetan, Nepali and English. They also have class for elder people for 1 hour a day where the teacher will help them to know daily usage and vocational knowledge. For example: 'what is your name?' how to sign their name, etc.

Furthermore, the school organize annual events with dance, football and volleyball competitions, and various games which can help them to develop their mental knowledge and also support them to explore their talent that they have inside.

However, sometime the teacher bound to take the class outside the ground due to shortage of classrooms. Besides their teaching job, they also need to cook the food for the children and themselves for lunch because the school can't afford staff. Due to the snowfall in winter season, the school will be open only for 6 months a year. Apart from that, 20 days will be off to collect the yarchagumba in spring season. Collecting this little insect is one way families can get some much needed cash. 

Many people wonder why the education is so poor in these remote areas. One reason is due to the villages being so small with only a couple dozen children. Additionally, it can take several hours to reach the next village, so the children cannot possibly go so far each day. Sometimes there are tigers and the children can be in extreme danger.

There are also many students who have high absenteeism and low marks because they don't have a notebook, books, pencils, a school bag and so on. Similarly, children are compelled to work at home in order to help their parents instead of going to school. Additionally, the village has little in the way of electricity. There are a few solar panels in some homes and school but it isn't enough. 

There is no pipeline for the water supply to the school or village, which would keep the children from getting sick. There is also a need to start the project of a green house in Ku village. This would help the children to be healthier and would build the economic base of the village. 

In conclusion, to ensure the future of the Ku village and Tashi Sumdho Primary School, contributions from abroad is essential. There are various ways of supporting Ku Village and Tashi Sumdho Primary School. 

Donation can be given to the School and we also offer you to classroom sponsorships and other forms of project sponsorships. Although we will have a formal project on our website, http://KayGarnay.org we can take donations and discuss how you'd like the money to be distributed if you'd like to donate before we get the details up. We will have some lovely gifts from Nepal for donors. Donate through Paypal at this address: HelpChangunarayan@gmail.com


We don't accept the sponsorships for individual children, as we believe it is important to have the same conditions for all the children. 




Sunday, January 15, 2017

Educational Values in Nepal



I think it's a great idea for students in some fields to come here to Nepal to get a degree. I would not recommend it for the hard sciences, but for social studies and such it's pretty amazing in a couple of ways.

The school system is horrible here for the Nepali, but it seems like a piece of cake for an English speaking person. I wrote about it, the good and the bad, in my eBook, Nepal: A Tourist's Manual, but here are a few things to consider.


1. All text books are written in English, even though the teachers do not always speak fluently in English.

2. All exams are in English and are essay questions. You will be expected to write at least a page for each answer, but since many test reviewers do not speak English very well, it's incredibly easy to fake it and still match your peers. Sometimes they even have questions from the footnotes and there are few, if any, quizzes or exams during the year. You will only have one exam for each class and possibly a term paper or project. Nobody scores in the 90's and few score in the 80's. It's literally mostly percentile rather than grade.

3. The prices are a real bargain from around $300 a year with student visa around $1,500. A private room and food can be provided for student for under $200 per month.

Check with your country's requirements for international colleges to see if Nepal's government university will work in your country as a qualified degree. If your degree requires a license you may need to take too many classes back home to pass the licensing exam, so be careful. This isn't for everyone, but for many of the soft sciences I think it's a real bargain.

One other issue with Nepal's schools is that because the tests are all standardized it doesn't really matter what the teacher says in the lectures. It's all taken from the text, but there seems to still be an attendance requirement. As one of my office staff told me from her recent Masters' level final exams, there were even questions that were not required reading. There is also issues such as textbooks that are difficult or impossible to obtain. Even after your finals are finished you won't get your grades for several months. It seems to be an unfair system. 

Many NGO's and companies take internships, so if you have completed your studies and just need an internship, Nepal has many opportunities to do some good and learn to put into practice what you've learned. There will be a $7 or so charge for bed and food charge per day throughout Nepal, but it is quite easy to get an internship placement in Nepal. Our NGO takes interns and volunteers, as well. If you haven't read Anastasia's blog post here it is. She volunteered and worked in our village: http://bit.ly/2cxTCyg


One other educational opportunity that I didn't mention is in the metaphysical realm. Yoga and meditation teaching certifications and the like are often a bargain, but sometimes I can't believe the prices they charge.

If you are from the US or another country without health care you could fly here, get your teeth fixed, get some medical tests done and still save money. So, if you could get a yoga teachers certificate while you are here I think it would be a real bonus.

My eBook is available now at https://payhip.com/b/sQu5 If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. 

Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you get my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. http://bit.ly/2aGxcuHIf there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 

Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2 

If you''d like to connect on social media with me here's   how: 

Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frugal.travels 


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Senior Volunteer Opportunity


I keep seeing people come to Nepal to help and end up building a guest house for someone. Seriously? We do not believe that is a good use of our volunteers' time or talent to do what local people can do. We also know it gets quite cold in many countries throughout N. America and Europe and cold winters can be difficult for people on the other side of 55. Our winters are quite mild in the Kathmandu Valley with views of the Himalayas.


No Volunteer Fees-Pay only for food/Utilities while you are here and we feature a ½ price on food charges ($10 per day for volunteers after Mar. 1) for over 60 years old and native/fluent English speaker. Your entire stay will cost only $5 per day for the right person.

Aug. 2017-March 1, 2018
Enjoy a mild winter, interesting activities and make a difference in our village. Imagine how much money you will have saved if you do not have to pay for heating and rent.

This senior mother brought her son, grandson and daughter-in-law.
Everyone found their place in our village and had a wonderful time.

We offer:
Private room with bath
Weekly day trips to Kathmandu for site seeing by car each week.
Food prepared for you using hygienic practices and quality ingredients, either Nepali style cooking or Western style food.
24/7 Electricity, WIFI, Hot Water
Yoga sessions, art lessons and interesting village activities
We provide a healthy, enriching experience of Nepal and our sincere appreciation.


Skills needed:
Ability to use social media, take pictures and videos, upload them to social media and websites.
 Read textbooks into MP3 recording
Teach in our local, government school:
Health and Sex Education          
English/Social Studies/Science
Art Projects
A project or dream that you’d like to do


You will not be asked to do a job that a local person could also do. We support the local economy. 
You will be able to take coffee or tea up on our rooftop terrace just about any day while you are here.


Follow our work as you make your plans to join us. Contact Ama at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 



My eBook is available now at https://payhip.com/b/sQu5 If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. 

Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you get my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. http://bit.ly/2aGxcuHIf there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at FrugalTravelsNepal@gmail.com 

Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2 

If you''d like to connect on social media with me here's how:Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/frugal.travels