I’m sure there is a few things I can tell you about Nepal that you didn’t know:
* Eight of the twelve peaks highest peaks (over 8,000m) are located in Nepal.
* Cows are holy. You cannot eat them, however, you can drink their milk. Mostly though instant milk is being used.
* They eat dal bhat (rice and lentil soup) twice a day. They only eat twice a day. The first time is around 9am; the second between 6 and 7pm. Dal bhat is eaten using your right hand only. Or a spoon, in our case.
* Nepal has the second largest amount of water resources (after Brazil). Unfortunately, these are sold to India, resulting in scheduled, twice daily powercuts for everyone.
* The cook eats last.
* The Tharu people, indigenous to Nepal’s southern border, are immune to malaria. They are the only people immune to malaria and as a result they were the only people able to live in the south of Nepal. Since malaria became destinct in Nepal in the 1950s, Nepal’s mountain people moved down to the flatlands of the south. Now only 4% of the inhabitants of the south are Tharu.
* You have to give fingerprints to buy a Nepali SIM card for your phone.
* It was not until recently that the Nepali started wearing footwear. Their most favourite footwear is the flipflop. Judging by many a woman’s toenails it is in fact the only thing they wear…
* Nepal is currently living in the year 2069. Unless you are Sherpa, then it’s the year 2139.
* Everywhere you go you find playing cards on the ground – either partial or in one piece. And when I say everywhere, that is what I mean: from the treks near Annapurna base camp to the community garden of Chitwan.
* Spitting and burping is socially excepted. Je neus ophalen is very normal. In fact, when I heard the sound of someone blowing their noses, I literally thought: it is the first time I hear this sound in Nepal (and this after almost four weeks). I turned around and there was one of the other volunteers standing behind me.
* Here’s a serious environmental issue: which is the better, burning trash or just throwing it out in the street? There are no garbage men so these are the two options for your trash.
* Nepali look Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Tibetan, and some even Mediterranean. No-one looks Nepali. That is to say, there is no Nepali look.
* If and when a gas shower comes across our path, these tend to have two settings: summer or winter.
* There is no McDonald’s in Nepal. Strangely enough, there is a KFC and a Pizza Hut.
* Mourning widows wear white for 30 days.
* Stray dogs are incredibly nice. They appear groomed (to a certain degree) and they seem to have access to a steady food source. You don’t mind them snuffing your hands – as much as you would any unfamiliar dog roaming the streets anyway. That is because they are not really stray dogs. No-one in Nepal owns a dog, yet all dogs have owners.
* They drive on the left side of the road. That is to say, traffic rules and laws – as all other rules and laws – are more considered to be guidelines than anything else.
* Taxis are small, white Suzukis.
* If you want to get out of the bus or tuctuc, you just slam the side or roof of the vehicle to let the driver know this is your stop.
* No-one is ever in a hurry in Nepal. When you have an appointment at ten and show up at 10.30, you’re still on time. This phenomenon is called Nepali time. It is always applicable. I think the motto of our project’s leader describes it best: No-one but you knows when you’re tired. So rest when you need to. Don’t worry, don’t hurry.
* It doesn’t take much to be a millionaire in Nepal.