Nepal – Rich or poor?
Nepal – Rich or Poor?
OK let’s start with the statistics!
Firstly if you check out the internet you ill get a number of statistics about national wealth.
However one thing is for sure, Nepal can’t be regarded as a rich on any financial analysis.
According to the World Bank Nepal is classified as being a Low Income Economy. Some sources state that Nepal has the second lowest income in Asia.
All this sounds gloomy, but arguably this is not the best measure, so what is?
Recent report suggests that Nepal is a happier country than its more affluent and larger neighbour India. Its happiness rating is third in a survey of countries in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
So we ask- does wealth equal happiness? Most would agree that it does not!
We truly believe if you love the Nepal it is the richest place on earth!
Here is the experience of a traveler to Nepal.
My first trip to Nepal
“I first visited Nepal in the year 2000 at the tender age of 54 years. A group of friends had planned a trek to Kalapathar (5,643 m) and persuaded me to join them.
In the same year and old friend of mine had set out on around the world cycle ride. Mick and his partner Helen were due in Nepal at the same time, so I devised a plan. I would stay on in Nepal for another month and do a cycle trip around Nepal with them.
These are my memories of the trip; the sequence of events is not necessarily chronological!
First I needed suitable bike so naturally I headed to the local council tip. Here I acquired an old Raleigh bike; I reluctantly handed over the £4.00 (about 6 dollars). Having carried out a few repairs I carefully packed the bike for the flight to Kathmandu.
Feeling happy that the bike was well packaged I arrived at London’s Heathrow airport. I presented my package, and confirmed that it was a bike. I was promptly instructed to unpack it and deflate the tyres as Aircraft holds encounter very low pressure in flight and seemingly there was a risk that the tyres would explode.
This prospect worried me not as I could easily replace them, but the official was much more concerned. It seemed that if the aircraft’s systems detected the tyres exploding it would set of an alarm. If the alarm was activated the plane would have to land immediately! I guessed that if this happened I would not be popular with the passengers!
I it is fair to say that any preconception had of Kathmandu was was wildly inaccurate.
Therefore my advice to anyone arriving for the first time is to simply relax and absorb the culture.
During the first few days we were treated to a whirlwind tour of all the major historic locations in Kathmandu. I found the whole thing quite remarkable and breathtaking, and moreover the people were, quite simply, lovely.
Nevertheless we really came for the trek and sights of the high Himalaya. The reality surpassed all expectations; your fist sighting of the magnificent mountains close up is a memory that endures forever! for this reason alone I firmly believe that anyone who gets the opportunity to visit Nepal should grab it with both hands.
I was hit with altitude sickness after a couple of days and decided to stay at around 3,000 meteres. However I found that as I plodded slowly on the effects wore off. As the others had headed of to Gokyo traveling alone apart from my guide. We eventually continued towards Kala Patthar. Both myself and my guide just seemed to realize that this was inevitable so we carried on. We started slowly, but gathered pace. Having reached the summit it became clear that my guide was now suffering from altitude sickness.
I decided that we needed to loose altitude quickly, and therefore we headed down rapidly. I guess that this proved the point that the best way to recover is to descend, as it worked a treat. On the credit side we therefore arrived back at Namche Bazaar 2 days ahead of the others and moreover we were able made further trips around Namche.
I had planned to cycle round Nepal with Mick and Helen, but Helen was suffering badly from the long ride from the UK to Nepal, followed by the high altitude trek. I decided that I would travel by bike, and they would take public transport. Sometimes we got together to make trips by public transport.
In my cycle trip around Nepal I encountered a whole different side to Nepal; some of the highlights included the following:
En route to Pokhara I stopped at a wayside guest house, for my dinner I ordered chicken. This took longer than I anticipated. The chicken first had to be caught, and the rice sifted grain by grain to remove any grit!
In one Hotel we met some English people who had been sponsored by the library authorities to visit remote areas. They seemed quite disappointed to find other westerners casually rolling up!
Other places we visited were Kusha, Baglung, Basai, Raughat, Pokhara, Tansen, Lumbini,and Chitwan.
Getting my bike extensively repaired in Pokhara and having difficulty getting the guy to accept any payment!
Ranighat Palace- a hike from Tansen.
Monkeys throwing acorns at me!
We made a detour to a cave on the hike back. Our local volunteer guide was highly amused as I had problems forcing myself through the entrance. Maybe my western sized stomach didn’t help!
The cave itself was amazing and in pristine condition, it also housed a fascinating shrine.
The Long downhill decent to Lumbini- seemed to be down hill for 30 km, fun overtaking trucks!
We witness dozens of amazing butterflies, birds and wildlife. Went swimming in rivers and lakes, took days off to do walks, visited temples, shrines and amazing buildings. We constantly met incredible people and received the most amazing hospitality.
On one of our treks we passed a small village, on our return a group had gathered under a Mango tree. They asked if I would like to live with them, they had even sorted out a wife for me!
People frequently appeared from nowhere. Many lived in tiny rooms, sometimes they even appeared to appear from under a tarpaulin. Nevertheless they always emerged looking clean and dressed immaculately! They all wanted to stop for a chat.
One day I met a brigade of Maoist fighters armed with an array of rifles and carrying ammunition belts and bandoliers. Far from being scary they just seemed incredibly amused at the sight of an overweight westerner making his way on a dilapidated bike.
We visited the spectacular Devi Falls. A local guy offered to take us down the gorge into a labyrinth of caves. As we had no torches we had to use candles for light. Once inside the system we had to step lightly as the floor of the caves was made slippery due to a massive covering of bat droppings. Avoiding the huge bats fluttering around was huge fun?
Everywhere our presence seemed to cause spontaneous chaos. On one occasion we managed to empty a school as all the children poured out to see us. The teachers meanwhile attempting to round them up by chasing them with a stick!
I have traveled widely throughout Europe and in parts of Asia by bicycle. My first trip to Nepal was in a different category altogether, quite definitely amazing. Amazing scenery, amazing wildlife, amazing culture, amazing climate, just simply amazing.
I have been back to Nepal twice since, in 2004 I brought my daughters and their friends for a trekking trip. And in 2006 I returned to celebrate my 70th birthday. On this occasion I used Appoorva Tours who proved to be indispensable for the trip we had envisaged.
I could go on endlessly about all of these trips,as a matter of fact they were all real adventures and the unexpected often became the norm.
Will I go back again? Of course I think this is inevitable, perhaps for my 80th birthday?”
Graham Rule, Nottingham England
So it seems that if you want to see true riches a visit to Nepal will be a genuinely enriching experience, ask anyone who has been.