There are a lot of fascinating places in the world that one should visit. If you are wondering where to go next, consider adding Nepal to your travel bucket list. It is one of those countries that are totally diverse and awe-inspiring. You will have the chance to see the dramatic glaciers, mountainscape, valleys and the number of World Heritage Sites. Nepal is considered the perfect destination for spiritual seekers, adventure junkies and everyone who wants to see the world from another angle.
Before going to Nepal, make sure to learn more its people. The local culture is very different from what you have experienced before. Here is what you need to know:
The language barrier
You will meet a lot of locals while trekking in Nepal. Some routes such as Annapurna Trek or Everest Base Camp Trek vary between 160-240 kilometres. Travellers usually stay in small hotels along the road. All the hotels are run by the Nepalese villagers.
However, you shouldn’t worry about communicating in Nepal. Almost everyone there can speak English. Keep in mind that the locals have their own pronunciation - it is called Nenglish. There is a chance you might not understand them sometimes.
According to recent studies, there more than 100 languages in Nepal. The most popular one is Nepali. So, make sure to learn some basic phrases in this language. It will help you to win over the locals, get to know them better, and get some extra perks during your travel.
If someone doesn’t speak English or Nepali (people from the mountain villages, for instance), respect it and use your gestures to explain what you need.
Every time you meet a new person, place your palms together and say ‘namaste’ or ‘namaskar.’ Feel free to accept the handshake from men and women. However, you should never offer your hand first, especially to the women. It is not acceptable to hug Nepalese women as a greeting since it can offend her and her family.
Even though same-sex marriage is not recognized in Nepal, it is still considered one of the most gay-friendly countries in Asia. Until 2007, a private homosexual relationship and cross-dressing were crimes. Everything has changed after the transition from the Kingdom of Nepal to the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
These days, it is perfectly fine to hold hands with a same-sex partner in public. More than that, local men hold hands quite often in Nepal. For them, it is the way to show that they are good friends or relatives.
In some villages, people are not aware of the concept of homosexuality and LGBT rights. However, you wouldn’t feel any pressure travelling in Nepal with your same-sex partner. The authorities require most offices and schools to adopt anti-bullying policies to protect LGBT members.
Being a guest
The locals like inviting tourists from the Western world for dinners. Accept their invitation - it is the chance to meet their family members, learn more about the culture, and taste traditional food.
Before coming to the table, take your shoes off and wash your hands. The Nepalese people don’t understand how you can walk around the house in the dirty shoes.
Don’t get surprised if the lady of the house offers you food multiple times - she tries to be friendly. To avoid overeating and not to offend your new friends, just take a little of everything. Also, don’t ask questions if you see that your host doesn’t eat dinner. In some families, women start eating only after everyone ate.
Most probably, the Nepalese family will serve the cooked rice. Make sure not to spill it all over the floor - it is considered an insult for some Nepalese who believe in the Goddess of Food.
Every time you accept something from your hosts, use both of your hands rather than one. It is the way to show your respect and gratitude.
You might not like travelling in Nepal if you are left-handed. It is considered uncivilized to eat with a left hand in Nepal.
Another important thing you should know is that cows are sacred in Nepal (the same way it is in India). So, avoid bringing your own beef to the table. It is strictly prohibited to eat beef in front of Buddhist and Hindus.
If you want to agree to something in Nepal, shake your head from one side to another. The Nepalese nod their heads when they want to say ‘no.’
Here are some things you should know when you are speaking to the locals:
Never tell people that their children look cute. The Nepalese believe that complimenting on children can bring bad luck.
You’d be surprised, but it’s totally fine to say to women and men that they look fat. More than that, they will be happy to hear it from you! The thing is that being chubby is considered healthy in Nepal