I wanted to help women and children in Nepal.
I searched dozens of organisations and settled on Volunteers Initiative Nepal (VIN).
They looked good and trustworthy on their internet site.
Once there it was nothing but disapointment.
They put me up for 2 nights in a bug infested hostel room.
The 'training' was barely 2 days and off to the Jitpur area.
The early childhood placement they put me in was a disaster, extremely badly organized and extremely filthy conditions.
The switch to the women's empowerment program meant hours and hours of discussion in their office. No real work. No real help.
Unique Suggestions: Discusssions with locals and a couple of people who tried volunteering for other NGOs led to believe that Nepal NGOs prefer to invite foreign volunteers who are required to pay fees
instead of properly training locals who could stay permanently and truly help their community.
They prefer to fill their greedy pockets.
Never trust a Nepal NGO based on the internet site.
Wait until you are in the area and check them out in person.
As much as I wanted to start a yearly habit of volunteering overseas,
I do no agree with paying fees.
Giving our help, our time and our knowledge should be sufficient.
Taxis organised by your hotel, frequently red-licenceplated (private cars) are by far more exoensive than a regular taxi hailed from the street. Sometimes the driver has no clue about where you are going, not knowing KTM from a tourism or taxi driver perspective. The hotel may just be using gthe boss' private car instead of letting it stay idle.
Sometimes hotels upon your booking say they have a vehicle for you at the airport - beware! you may pay a lot for this service. Some take you for free, others do not. Ask first to avoid surprises.
Unique Suggestions: Before you book a taxi or ask for a hotel taxi, ensure that your driver knows where you want to go, if he has to wait for you to return to the hotel and what the cost will be.
Fun Alternatives: Take a regular taxi, or if you really need a good vehichle service, contact Buddha Transport.
Generally, Thamel is seen as foreign land by most Nepalis. They even come here to watch the foreigners!
You will find the place interesting and fairly efficient and easy to start with, but after a few days you begin the tire of the place. Very loud, noisy, lots of huslers, sellers, providers. It is even more expensive than delsewhere in Nepal.
Worst thing about Thamel is that the comforts here prevent you fvrom looking outside for other and more genuine adventures. It is so easy to get stuck in this part of the city - get out of there!
All this said, this is the place for a predictable meal, quick shopping, late opening hours shops and a shoulders-down attitude, good drinks and a plethora of bookshops.
There is nothing original or genuine about thingsin Thamel, apart from the tourism itself: Utse Hotel & Restaurant, KC's, and Kathmandu Guest House were the early ones, still worth a visit.
Unique Suggestions: Ensure that you take advantage of the services here to enable you to go on with your travel and exploration.
I just remembered taking photograph of this shop. I had purchased 4 Duracell Batteries for my camera as I noticed that my rechargeables were running out. But later found at Swyambhunath temple that thse batteries dont work at all though expiry date is 2011! They may be fake.
A word of caution to fellow travellers please buy everything from a better shop located at eithe at New Road or at Thamel Supermarket. I paid double the price Rs 250/- for four and got cheated. This shop is located near Boudhnath temple. I just dont remember the name.
Young lads or mothers approach you asking for milk for their baby sister / baby. They take you to shop where you buy milk at inflated price. After you have gone they sell back to shop and both make a profit.
Unique Suggestions: Open milk so can not be resold.
If you walk around with your camera these people friendly wave at you. Once you have teken a picture you wont 't leave without a donation. and some are not easily satisfied.
Fun Alternatives: Find someone to distract them; then take a picture. ( - ;
Once you would need the service of an agency, for example to book a train ticket or whatever, before to agree for somehting, ask them which is the % or value of their services.
So, before to confirm something, bergain also about the provvision!!!!
Another very common thing that will definitely happend to you during your stay in India is this: You will take somewhen a rickshaw or whatever to reach a site, and they will definitely bring you in some shop (a shop of a friend or a brother or whatever). Keep in mind that the owner of the shop will pay the driver a commision cuz he brought there some tourist and clearly the prices of the goods will increase...
So, be strong and tell to the driver that you will not leave the rickshaw! This is the only thing that works out...
Many boy start to talk with you:
"Hey Sir, which country?"
After, this boy follow you as a guide, this is a temple, this is a square etc etc.
Probably this boy bring you in Durbar Square, and want make the ticket for you.
He say the ticket cost is 300 Rs but he can help you also
Ticket is 200 Rs for Western peoples and 25 Rs for Indian.
So now you have your ticket but also a problem if the Police stop you and boy is more rich.
Unique Suggestions: Don't talk whit this boy.
May be he ask you:
Sir, you can ask me all capitals of the world, I know, I know.
France? Paris. Laos? Vietiane. Mongolia? Ulan Bator. Etc
After that, the boy stay with you all DAY.
Fun Alternatives: You don't lose so much money but is not a good experience.