‘High Altitude’ Exploring 5 myths following a recent and amazing trip
Travellers from around the world are keen to experience the many wonders of Nepal. The many “myths” about the country which keep others away is perhaps a blessing. But be smart: Avoid the myths and just go, you will love it.
Traveloka is pleased to provide a few “myth shattering” highlights from a recent visit to this Himalayan paradise.
#1. TOO DANGEROUS-TREKKING
- You’re not going to the top of Mt. Everest. Only a few groups do the trekking – or “mountaineering” in Nepal. The two most often journeyed treks – Everest Base Camp in Eastern Nepal and the Jomsom Trek in Eastern Nepal are not really mountaineering expeditions in the commonly assumed sense. They are actually more appropriately storied “Teahouse Treks.”
- On the Jomsom trek from Pokhara to Jomsom, a four to five day trip, you “hike” (it’s a walk in the park compared to a real trek). Think Doi Chiang Dao but longer. You don’t really exert yourself, you can rest at numerous outposts between villages, enjoy delicious home cooking, and relax with other travellers and at countless guesthouses.
- One couple whom the author (who travelled solo) met while “trekking” near Ghorapani (3 days north of Pokhara) hired a team of guides to escort them on the same hike. Over the top and totally unnecessary. Enjoy the adventure.
#2. TOO DANGEROUS-THE MAOIST INSURGENCY
- The insurgency ended… In 2006. The insurgency was a tragedy which killed thousands over the decade long conflict but it ran from 1996-2006. Even then, the direct impact on the safety and security of travellers in cities and the countryside was marginal.
- If a hiker met a Maoist guerrilla during this period, it would not be marked not with weapons and violence but with a “Thank You” cash demand, usually around 300 baht, for which an actual receipt would be offered. Remember:Peace deal signed, war ended – 13 years ago (before the release of the 1st generation iPhone)
#3. TOO RISKY FOR WOMEN
- Woman of all ages, nationalities and ethnicities are welcomed and treated respectfully and compassionately in Nepal every day. This equally applies to solo female travellers.
- Nepalese are inherently soft-spoken, modest, gentle and very receptive to welcoming diversity in numbers, regardless of your faith or country of origin. They treat all people as equals without any prejudice or disdain.
- Travellers to Nepal are welcomed as visitors-in homes, villages, mountain passes, day and night – and even around-the-clock in the larger, more densely populated cities.
#4 TOO DIRTY AND UNHYGIENIC
- Nepal is an undeveloped country as measured by GDP per capita, and among the poorest in Southeast Asia. However, the country has taken huge and important steps in its development over the years with thousands lifted out of poverty in the process.
- Clean bottled water is readily available throughout the country, and food storage, refrigeration and preparation standards have greatly improved.
- The number and geographic spread of higher class health facilities is improving. Perhaps the most common illness encountered by tourists in Nepal is by those who aspire to climb too high, too fast.
- For first time travellers to Nepal, it’s important to know about “acclimatization” which is a process of slowly adjusting your body and reduced oxygen flows to your brain at high altitudes – Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can set in above 2500 meters.
- Your body can adapt, or acclimatize, but too often impatient travellers-trekkers just don’t get it. Remember, a gradual approach is best. AMS has nothing to with cleanliness or hygiene or land or seaborne diseases. It is sadly all about the impatience of so many travellers to achieve too much too quickly. So go slow and stay healthy if you do decide to climb above these heights.
- During our visit, Traveloka never met anyone with AMS or AMS like symptoms – and yes we took the time to enjoy Nepal’s majestic and truly stunning beauty through the slower “Tea House trek” approach. You can too, don’t rush it.
#5 It is a shoppers anti-paradise
- Nepal is not home to heavy industry or high-end luxury goods. Buyers in the market for premium cars or chic, brand name clothing-handbags-perfumes should probably give this agrarian country a miss if shopping is a top priority. The same would apply to your last minute opportunity at airport duty-free shops which are no match for other developed country cities around the world. People who spend USD 100,000 in Nepal are probably not shopping but joining an excursion to ascend Mount Everest- yes that is the going rate
- And yet, Nepal is a different shoppers paradise even among those who never thought of buying a thing there in advance of the trip.
- The emphasis with most purchases of choice is clearly note AI supported machine output and 4.0 technologies and systems but cottage industries that consistently showcase HANDMADE. And the work is stunningly beautiful, durable and refined. AND CHEAP.
- Some of the finest Pashimina- the name given to shawls and scarves in Asia- are made by hundreds of skilled designers in Nepal. Richly textured, rainbow colored paper made materials, dolls and masks, stone and bead jewelry remain immensely popular among shoppers. Locally produced coffees, teas and exotics spices are found in most restaurants and cafes and consistently rank among Nepal’s highest export earners. So while few travellers would say without teasing that they went to Nepal ‘to shop’ most would pick up some of these and many other treasures- for themselves- or as very well received gifts
Tee Chayakul Country Manager, Thailand, Traveloka said, “For anyone travelling in Asia we would certainly recommend exploring the many wonders of Nepal-all so easily accessible for outdoors lovers of all ages and physical well-being. Yes you do not have to take one step to see and feel at close range the stunning immensity and splendour of the Himalayas. The unrivalled scenery, eager and welcome Nepalese hosts, rich cultural heritage and passively inviting religions and cuisines all prove winners in tourist diaries. There are very few ‘one time’ only visitors to Nepal. With good reason.”
“Nepal is an under the radar location for most Thais despite its close proximity – just three hours and twenty minutes, so it’s ripe for discovery. And nothing is better than going to a new destination with hardly any expectations, and coming away hugely impressed. Thais will please to discover the warmth and friendliness of the Nepalese people in addition to the many temples, shrines, great food, and of course the country’s stunning natural beauty,” said Mr. Tee.[pro_ad_display_adzone id="915575"]