Tips for Travellers in Nepal – Food, Shelter, Communication
in the high season you WILL need reservations or risk sleeping on the dining room floor.
- Set expectations realistically for communicating with family and friends during the trek. Let me first dispel the myth that “there are cybercafes everywhere”. There was rumored to be one in Tadupani, but as I walked down the narrow twisting street suddenly everything went dark – power outage. By the time I returned to the guest house it was aglow with candles on every table – evidently power outages are common – but internet connections do not run on candle-power. Somehow, though, our guides’ cellphones never seemed to be out of reception range.
- Don’t worry about the food. This is not Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayas. The tea houses/hotels are governed by regional associations which set standards and offer an established menu of dishes with familiar names such as pizza, spaghetti, and eggroll. The fare is largely vegetarian, and might include fried rice, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, apple pie, and cornbread. Although the pizza may be like no pizza you ever ate before, and the cheese may be yak cheese, you will discover some reliable choices. The vegetable soups (tomato, pumpkin, carrot) are consistently excellent, and the dal bhat platter is a nutritional powerhouse. Our guides ate this at least twice a day and their slogan was “Dal bhat power – good for 24 hours!” And for your daily laugh, be sure to check the menu for typos. (Would you like to try the Greed Salad? Or the Chocolate Crap?)
- Don’t worry about the beds. The trekking trade is a key part of any upward mobility story in Nepal; each teahouse must meet minimum standards for accomodations, and most will exceed. Some of the teahouses are downright lovely, taking every advantage they can of the views and environment.
- Take time to check your room completely before starting out each day – including under the bed, under the blankets, in the corners. It is amazing what slips to the floor when you are tired and not looking. I managed to leave my favorite Biffie on the bed in Kalipani (fortunately I had a backup); my backup glasses/sunglasses never made it out of Pokhara, and DM rescued my favorite jade necklace from under the bed in Marfa. If you are traveling with a team as I did, check for each other.