Travel with a Local in Nepal with DIWAS Photography
Mouthwatering aromas fill the streets. Unfamiliar foods featured in the tea shop’s window display. Adventure, curiosity, paired with a smidge of caution moving forward. One of the major objectives of this tour is taste and feel all the flavors Nepal has to offer us. (You can catch a glimpse of the other things we did on the tour here.) The spicy, the savory, the sour, the bitter… there’s something for everyone, truth be told. The spices common to Nepali cuisine are as vibrant as they are pungent. It’s is reassuring to venture into all of the culinary delights with a community that has the commitment to try new things while having a local who can communicate to ensure allergens are kept at bay. We know all too well how things like dairy or gluten can really mess up a travel experience!
Another bonus of traveling with a local is the local can support the efforts to get the samples of a banana from every bushel ensuring the sweetest experience, and the freshest fruit prepared the same way they enjoyed it in their childhood…which for us was freshly hand crushed chili paste to go with your pomelo during a roadside stop, for instance.
It didn’t feel right to just let our travelers simply indulge in all of the divine Nepali food that the culture offers us, but to provide a cooking class or two so folks can be nostalgic at home, sharing the warmth that only a dal bhat can bring. An excellent addition to our tour was visiting organizations that are doing more than their part to bring social change to Nepal through implementation of projects and programs that stop human trafficking.
By providing, typically women, marketable skills: handicraft manufacturing, office skill set development, to culinary education and more. We directly benefited from learning how to prepare both Nepali dal bhaat + thakari (Nepali curry with bean soup) and Nepali mo:mos (dumplings). We learned more about the plight of these organizations, the impressive work they are doing to create sustainable changes, and we were able to shop ethically purchasing beaded jewelry, silk clothing, felted wool handicrafts, cook-books, and more.
It was really wonderful for our travelers to engage with the Nepali teachers and employees of these organizations, and watch relationships develop amongst everyone. We’d laugh at the awkwardness of pleating our dumplings, to the varied experience levels of eating with our hands, to observing the tolerance of spice levels evolve, and sit with awe and wonder over the level of commitment and patience that existed in the room.
Coming together around a table was a gift. Whether it was overlooking the Durbar Squares gazing at ancient temples, or sitting in the field having breakfast with the elephants, or a pit stop while on the highway. Together we were learning, growing and noticing how every day we gained a little more insight about Nepali culture, Nepali food, about each other, and maybe even a little bit more about ourselves. Surrounded by kind people, in an environment that encouraged a slow flow, with foods bursting with flavor … we were happy to share a table. And you’re invited to bring a proverbial chair and join us next time.