Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Chocolate, Chocolate, Giving Kids Chocolate

Kids everywhere are so cute and they all love candy, so Nepali kids are no surprise. Many tourists enjoy bringing candy for the kids they meet along the way. Should we do it? Seldom, if ever, is this a good idea. Here's why:

1. Nepal, and children from other developing nations tend to only brush their teeth one time a day. Many families find themselves without money for such things as tooth brushes. Candy is acidic and will stay on their teeth a long time. They also seldom go to the dentist, so that chocolate/candy will eventually cause a lot of pain and the tooth will most likely be pulled, not repaired.

2. If you are a mother you will understand why you wouldn't want strangers feeding your children. You could ruin the mother's night with a child who wouldn't eat dinner but cries all night from hunger.

3. Teaching children that it's OK to take from anyone can cause a problem with boundaries. People in Nepal see tourists as superhuman, rich and so mysterious. It is best to help them understand we are just human. We are not gods seeking to dole out a random blessing.

4. Our children are so cute and it's nice to engage in conversation, but if you give money or candy you are encouraging them into a life of begging. 

5. Child Trafficking is a thing here in Nepal. I wonder how many children have been lured into the sex trade because they asked a stranger for chocolate. 

When you see places like this with children living there it's hard not to do something to help.

Hospitals are also good places to bring clothing for donating.

What to do instead?

What if you just talk with the child? Teach them a word or phrase. Ask them about their village, how to say a particular word in Nepali or even take them to lunch with you if they seriously look hungry. Although I haven't done it for a very long time, I love to share a meal with a street kid. They almost always want mo:mo, so you don't need to worry about a big cost.

What I'm trying to convey is if you must, if you really feel compelled to share your wealth with children please give something other than candy or money. Take a pen or pencil out of your bag and give it to the child. They will seldom refuse a pen. Pens and pencils can be found all over for about 10 rupees or less. Never take new pens or pencils still wrapped in packaging, to prevent returning it for a partial refund.

Often, especially if you give them a pen, the child may ask for a book. DO NOT fall for this. They will take you to the stationary store for you to buy a $12 dictionary. There are cheaper dictionaries, but they want the hardcover Webster's Dictionary and will only return it 10 minutes later for a partial refund. If you must buy them a book be sure to take it out of the wrap and write their name in it. Or, better yet, open it and act like you are going to write in it and look at their face as they think of a reason to get you to stop ruining it. Then walk away.

It's a great idea to bring some used books from home if you are from a country like the US. Used books can be found in some countries for cheap or even free. Just ask a library, school or friend for a donation. If you'd like a letter for extra luggage we are happy to write one for you under our registered agency (contact: You don't even need to give us the books or warm, used clothing. If you are going trekking you can just give to people along the way. We just love to be a small part of helping.




Monday, August 21, 2017

Even More People Suffering; How to Help?

Whether it's Lord Krishna's birthday or my own, just about any day-trip to Bhaktapur is met with a celebration of one kind or the other. This past Saturday found us for the second time within a week celebrating a festival in Bhaktapur. In fact, August has been quite an enjoyable month due to Gia Jatra, these two festivals and my own 64th birthday.

 It's monsoon and there is terrible flooding along our Indian border and into India. Here in the Kathmandu Valley the weather in August is really nice compared to much of the rest of the world. Most of India and the Middle East are extremely hot and Malasia and Eastern Asia are hot and sticky with monsoon. Here in the Kathmandu Valley it hasn't broke 30 degrees (or more than 85 degrees F.) yet this year. Here at the Star View Guest House the rooftop terrace is getting a lot of use with its gentle breezes and village scenes. Even still, we haven't used the room fans much this year.

August sunset over Kathmandu from Star View Guest House, Changunarayan

 This last trip to Bhaktapur, as well as my recent trip to Kathmandu, was met with many young people collecting funds for the people in the flood region. Although I am a bit cynical of social workers, I believe these young people in these clubs can be trusted to be in their integrity. 


"No one can help everyone, but everyone can help someone'

Our agency, Kay Garnay for Nepal, is also shifting its focus to help the recent flood victims. I know first hand how quickly the world moves on to the next disaster, such as the recent earthquake in South America where 25,000 people died. Now it  seems these Nepali and Indian flood victims, the refugees from Syria, African refugees and starving people and the earthquake victims from S. America all have to compete for the same funding dollars-that is until tomorrow when another group is added to these innocent people. How can I ask for funding for an organic farming project or a women's work initiative when there are so many who are so much worse off? The plight of each of these groups is beyond imagination. 

So, here are my thoughts on our need to be funded verses taking care of those in severe need elsewhere. The most important thing for these people, whatever group they find themselves, is that they participate in their own care and subsistence. It reminds me of the Vietnamese 'Boat People' of the 1970's-80's. They went from being castaways on a boat to serving as emergency room doctors and in other professional fields faster than I ever thought possible. 

Our handmade, covered woolen blanket-only $200 inc. shipping and 3 more pillow covers.

As we make progress on our online ventures via or the projects at we will be funding exclusively for the flood victims in Nepal. Additionally, we have this consumer-friendly shopping site and use our profit for the flood victims through the end of the year: Nepali Thangka Paintings and Wooden Masks


However, we are not asking for money. Although we have a few projects you can make a donation to, we ask only that you support us by shopping for art and handicrafts that support the local people of Nepal. Our profits are only going toward food and supplies for the flood victims until the end of 2017.  This will allow our generous sponsors to use our websites to support us with their shopping dollar.  We have only high quality, handcrafted items made in Nepal.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Making Dinner in Nepal

People wonder about food in Nepal. If you have a sensitive digestion the last thing you’ll want to do is go where you cannot eat the food. Nepal can be such a place, and is such a place for me. Nepali eat just about the same food every night, curry, lentil soup and white rice. I am just unable to deal with such foods, which is fine because I have my own cook. Bimala is my Nepali granddaughter and is in college. She has been living in Changunarayan for several years with her mother in the remote village with her grandmother, so she’s been a bit more than a big sister for quite some time. 

Typically, we sit together watching youtube videos and talking about how we can manage it with ingredients available here in Nepal. We recently came up with another winner for Star View Guest House’s menu for our volunteers and guests. We just have a six guest room guest house, so there is no reason to keep a full menu ready for people to walk past. Star View Guest House is literally at the end of the road. A great place to be-after you get here.

We recently came across this amazing looking recipe that we had just about all the ingredients for. Being in Nepal, we find a need to substitute quite a few things for Western recipes. 

This one from Shetty's Kitchen looked good so Bimala made it for our guest, Bre and me. It's called Cabbage Manchurian
This is actually an Indian recipe because no matter how I try to search on youtube for American food it always takes me to Asia.

Served on a bed of white rice, it was the best cabbage dish I’ve ever had. I’m not big on cabbage, but I could have had it for leftover lunch if we hadn’t eaten it all. This is a vegetarian recipe and probably vegan. I'm not a big fan of vegan because if it weren't for milk and cheese people wouldn't raise cows in Nepal.

If you come to Star View Guest House and feel like you’d like to have something from back home just let us know. If you’d like to help Bimala to make it for everyone you can eat free.

I hope this recipe will  be one you ask for when you come to Nepal. Changunarayan is really starting to look lovely as the homes get rebuilt after the earthquakes. 
This is the recently rebuilt Changu Guest House and Restaurant. It's at the front steps of the temple. It's just lovely!
As you can see by this picture, the homes are being built to be safe for earthquakes

Chimichungaon rice up on the rooftop terrace.

Enchalada cassarole with homemade tortillas!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Coming to Nepal? How 'bout a Free Stay in Changunarayan?

Our agency is in need of a few things that we cannot get from here, either due to our finances or because we just cannot find it. We don't have much money, but we do have a lovely guest house in an amazing village. We went to Kathmandu yesterday and it was so sticky-hot we felt like we were melting. Then we got half way up the mountain after Bhaktapur and it started to rain and cool us off. It was so good to feel the cool water coming in the window. We have only 4-40 air conditioning-open 4 windows and go 40 MPH. 

Star View Guest House was fortunate to have a guest come to stay a month who is a creative crafter. She is helping us put the joint project with Siddhi Memorial Health Centre (hospital). We walked all over Kathmandu asking for such a simple thing, straight pins for our new sewing project. We couldn't believe they just do not seem to exist in Nepal. 

We use the guest house to help the agency and sometimes the agency even helps us fill the guest house. So, if you would like to put a package of straight pins (cost is only about a dollar) into your luggage for us we would be happy to give you a night's stay in our guest house. We'll give you a nice room with an attached bath if one is available and even breakfast. 

We have so many birds here it would be wonderful if we had a pair of good binoculars to share with our guests. If you could go to a second hand store and pick up a good, used pair we could give you 3 nights stay with breakfast.

If you have a used laptop we can give you 5 or more nights with breakfast, depending on the age/value. We are teaching the villagers who are unable to go to college how to make websites with affiliate marketing links. The class is coming along rather well, but we need more computers in order to expand the class and provide computers for more of the students. Many of them have to share.

Our dictionary distribution at our local government school for 100 students.

If you have a broken camera or SIM card compatible mobile phone, or laptop computer, good quality and less  than 5 years old we can give you a free stay as we agree upon. We really appreciate help with these things.  We are looking for something we can make videos with and take great close-up, nature shots, computers we can  use to expand our computer classes and getting by is difficult without a mobile phone and many poor women need one. Many electronics  can be repaired for a small amount when the corporation repair center doesn't want to look at it. This is definitely something to consider bringing, whether you want to come to our guest house or get a great deal on a repair.

If you can bring gently used, warm clothing we can give you a room for 1 night for each 10 KG. that you bring. You can distribute the clothing yourself, either with us or when you go trekking. The people in trekking country suffer horribly from the cold. So far, Kay Garnay for  Nepal, in conunction with our volunteers and guests, has collected and distributed over 200 KG of warm clothing. 

One last thing I'd like to mention; Nepal is a nation in need of books and learning materials. We do not need new school supplies, as they can usually be purchased here for less. We need used children's books and simple to understand books about solar projects, organic farming and first aid books. We can give you $1 off your room charge for each 3 books you bring.

We can write a letter from  our registered nonprofit agency so you can get some free baggage on the airlines. We are always happy to provide you with whatever you need, but please keep in mind that we will have to pay a tariff on the items and pick them up in Kathmandu. Computers and electronics are too expensive to ship by parcel. We suggest putting an extra 1-2 in your luggage.

If you would like to bring any of these things to us please email us at

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Have It Your Way

Our little agency, Kay Garnay for Nepal, literally means, "What to do for Nepal" in the Nepali language. Not that we've done so much, but it's the way we do it that really makes it enjoyable for me. With just me, my assistant and our Nepali board it's a lot more 'elbow grease' than contributions. As the cover picture shows, we took warm clothing to a local senior citizen center/nursing home in Bhaktapur. It made us all so happy whether we were giving or receiving.

If you are looking for a worthy cause to support in Nepal, the nursing home we went to is doing a wonderful job with the old folks. They have 33 patients and 29 employees. They also have a birthing center in the same location. 

This hospital was started due to the death of a young boy. This is his parents way of letting the loss have some positive meaning. For more information or to make a donation please visit the website: 

We wrote a letter with our agency letterhead to request extra space/weight for our guests, Jolanda and Hank from Netherlands. They had sent 2 huge boxes through the post office and one normal size box, plus they took extra bags with them on the flight to Nepal.  There were so many jackets and shoes we were able to distribute them to the local nursing home and two settlements of displaced Nepali and Indian families.

Warm clothing from Jolanda and Hank, Netherlands
Our next stop was a tent city at the river. This is where the poorest people live. This area has an international INGO that helps the people some. This is a Christian agency, which we do not support. Although Christianity is an established religion, and we don't wish them ill will, we do not support conversion of the local people. They actually have a religion that has been here for thousands of years prior to Christianity, so we see it as a matter of preference rather than need to change.

One way well intended tourists can get into trouble is by conversion. Religion has a deep and profound effect on any society, so making changes through Christian conversion programs can have a distructive influence dividing families, villages and castes. After a brief introduction at the agency's facility we distributed Jolanda and Hanks gifts ourselves.

This day we all got to play 'Santa Claus' to some of society's forgotten. We've done this so many times and it never gets old. There were only tents on one side of the river and make-shift dwellings on the other. The people on the tent side of the river discouraged us from giving to the 'rich' people on the other side. It was smelly and really filthy there at this camp, but passing out these jackets was a pleasure and joy.

When we have guests who bring clothing or books we always do our best to do as they wish with the items. We've taken books to our rec. center in Bhaktapur that our volunteers made and passed money onto those in need as our donors ask. You do not need to stay with us at the Star View Guest House; we are happy to help anyone to help Nepal.

We've gotten packages from New Zealand, UK, Spain, Polland and other countries of books, school supplies and gently used, warm clothing. We are always happy to pay the Nepali charges and other costs associated with picking up the packages. The man at the post office is starting to recognise us and he's been very kind as to assessing the tarrif. But because the taxi costs $30-35 and around $10 per box, we ask that our donors keep that in mind in deciding whether or not to send things.

School supplies from Polland
 Our amature radio friends from Polland recently sent us a couple boxes of school supplies, really lovely and mostly things that have a higher quality than what we can find here. Another from this group, Kaz, left us an amature radio compete with antenae.

One lovely volunteer, Anna, left us some lumbar supports for the villagers who have to do difficult labor in construction and farming. Here are a few of them getting the supports. If you wonder what to bring to a family you will be doing a home-stay with in a remote village, I suggest bringing a lumbar support if you know the size of the woman ($5 each), a knee support ($2 each) or a bag of lentils($2-3 per kg.). But be sure to check to make sure which would be most appropriate for the host family. If you get a scarf be sure to bring one for the mother-in-law, as well as the hostess ($5-10 each).

Another project we have that was inspired by volunteers is our library/play room. We've made play dough, tutored the children and given them a safe place to learn, play and study.

We got some new chess and Ludo sets and they really play well.
We play 'raison math' with the kids so they can truly understand addition and subtraction. This game has the built in reward of getting to eat the raisons in the subtraction round. 

If you are coming to Nepal and want to do something to enrich your time while you are here we'd love to have you come and do what's in your heart to help some really lovely people. 

Our latest need/offer: We are in need of gently used laptops and notebook computers. If you could bring us a laptop we will be happy to provide you a room in exchange, up to $50 per laptop in room rate exchange. Contact us at

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Tattoo convention of Kathmandu

Although I've tried to get to the annual tattoo convention in Kathmandu for years now, this was the first year I actually made it. Two years ago I was on my way to the convention along with a couple of our guests and Kamal's son, Kiran when the earthquake struck. This year I was determined to get there and I'm really glad that I did.

I was surprised that the location wasn't marked well and we had to ask for directions along the way. The exhibition center was modern and well lit with several rows of stalls. The tattoo artists were from all over the world and many of the tattoo artists were covered with their artwork.

As I walked passed the stalls I spoke with several artists. This is a personal issue so it's important to feel comfortable with the artist. As it turned out, I found my way back to an artist from Spain and spoke with her briefly a second time. She just felt right and had time for me. Maria was excited to do my tattoo, as she had just had her first reiki attunement; I wanted a small reiki symbol. It felt like a synchronicity that she also had a connection to reiki.
Reiki symbols aren't displayed so I cannot show it.

Maria and her boyfriend had produced a short movie that the convention showed. The movie portrayed 21 people in masks who had clamps pierced through their skin and lifted in a carousel-type apparatus and spun in a rather gothic manor. It depicted this unique human art-form and was quite interesting. I told Maria about our upcoming festival whereby a Nepali man has a rod pierced through his tongue and then proceeds to pull a chariot with a god within.  Both she and her boyfriend, also a tattoo artist, were quite interested.

If you plan to come to Nepal in March/April be sure to check to see when this annual convention is going to be here. The tattoos are quite inexpensive and start from only 4,000 NRs. Although about twice the price as in Kathmandu in the local establishments, it is still a bargain over Western prices.

My eBook is available now at If you are planning a trip to Nepal you'll enjoy it. It will save you time as well as money, but more importantly, it will help you to have a better time in Nepal. Many people wonder if they can eat the street food like in Thailand or Vietnam. 

Here's my spoiler alert: Do not eat the street food in Nepal, nor should you eat at any buffet. The eBook addresses such things as this and what to do if you become ill, etc. Whether or not you get my book, please read this short, free eBook. It will help you get your time here off to a great start. there is a problem with the download or code please let me know at 

Promotion code for discount: GR5X4BCHX2 

Connect on social media: Twitter: @FrugalTravelsNe @NGOchangu Facebook: 

Friday, March 31, 2017

How Not to Ask for Money When Money is Desperately Needed

It’s the hardest thing to do for me, ask for money. Even when someone stays at the guest house I try to give as much value as possible. Some of these travelers have such a small budget they even skip meals-in Nepal! If you can’t afford to eat in Nepal or India you probably need a better plan for traveling. I really admire them for going after all the adventure they can get before settling down.

I budget about $200 a month for our agency and to help our village from my own funds. That covers administration expenses and it’s a real pleasure to help. We also provide a free room for volunteers, which is an annual expense of a few thousand more in ‘in-kind’ donations. We also have a dedicated room for our agency that the kids enjoy as a library/reading room and classroom. Our volunteers just pay for food if they can. Last week we had a couple who only ordered one dinner. We gave them half price so both could eat.
When we get clothing we separate the lighter clothing for the women here and send the heavy items to the mountains. 

It kept coming up, how to get enough money to do more than just run the NGO monthly costs. I want to do more. There is the hilltop at the temple with several trees having exposed roots. It’s just a matter of time before it landslides, so it has to be fixed ASAP. The sad thing is it would only cost a few hundred dollars to make it look lovely and be secure. Yes, I’m sure it will come out of one of my ‘oh so deep pockets.’
Our lovely guests leave money, warm clothing and even used laptop computers. Even people who have never been to Nepal help us with our computer issues from home. We have a friend who is encouraging our women’s group and that project is finally just about ready to launch. We are so grateful.
We have 4 women who are looking forward to working in our women's workshop. 

Our new plan: We’ve recently joined an affiliate website that is providing us with a platform to teach the local, young people while generating some funding. It’s so simple to use. Even though it is a busy website, once you get the layout it’s pretty easy to navigate. The tutorials and chat features are quite beneficial. I hope many of our former volunteers and our supporters will sign up to give this website a try. I think it will prove to be an excellent source of travel money for you and will help our agency, as well.

I know a lot of these internet marketing sites are scams, but this site doesn’t have products, so they can’t get you for more than the monthly membership and there’s no long-term contract. A person could even continue the free account until they see how it would work for them or keep it forever free. During the intro offer they can upload their own websites that they learn to make. 

Here's what you get before you ever need to pay:
·        Free Sign-up
·        Get 2 free websites with free hosting
·        Access basic online training; learn to create your own websites, get them SEO ready and create content.

·        Help and encouragement via community discussions and community support.

I offer it here for anyone to try. I think we get $1 when someone signs up for a free account. Get started free and get the help you need by clicking on our link: