Visiting your Child in Nepal, tentatively: April 17 – May 3, 2014

ANSWER receives nothing but good karma for organizing this trip, so we assume no liability. You can join or leave the group and travel on your own at any point. Each year we have 5-10 people traveling with us. We now have at least 9 considering (but often half opt out in the end, so there is still room). Allow a full 2 weeks in-country. Total Cost (including RT to Nepal) will usually run $2500-$3000 per person, depending on what you want to do. An extra week is possible for not much more if you have the time.

kidsCOMPLETE THE FORM (below) AND RETURN TO ME ASAP to let us know you are seriously considering. The form lets us know you’re interested, and does not commit you.

Nepal is on the other side of the world from the Midwest and Central time zones, so one can fly eastward or westward. Although it does cost slightly more, you can fly trans-Atlantic to Europe, change to Qatar, Etihad or Gulf Airlines and fly thru Doha, Qatar and direct to Katmandu. This allows you to stop off in Europe on the way back and enjoy some time in Europe without additional air cost. To fly to Nepal takes most of 2 days and costs about $1600-$2000 RT economy.

We ask that ticket arrangements be made through Himalayan Travels who have nearly 30 years of experience flying to Nepal! Sudesh and Gobind at HT are great and about the only thing they can’t do for you is negotiate Flyer miles with your airline but they are happy to answer your questions…esp, if you say, “Earle referred me.”   There are a dozen routes or more to get to Nepal, but ALL connections are bad at least coming or going, if not both, but they will do his best for you both in time and price, but please be aware of 12 hour layovers in airports (be sure to ask them). Regardless, please consult with us before you purchase tickets. Be very careful your names are spelled correctly (and match the name on your passport) before you pay for the ticket(s) or you will have to pay twice!!!  If there is a problem en route (delay, cancellation, etc), you have to just say to yourself: “Now the adventure begins!” and email me if you can as to when to pick you up.

elephantWe would like you to arrive in KTM by April 17 and spend a couple of days recovering in and around Thamel, the tourist section of Katmandu (KTM).  You will have the choice of staying in either Pilgrims Guest House (approximately $10-15 per night with attached bath) or a real Hotel nearby (but still no elevators) (approx $35-$45 per night?), depending on your level of comfort. Here you will recover from jet lag and we will make our in-country plans to explore the country: spending a few days each in picturesque Pokhara (www.hotelfewa.com) on Lake Fewa at the foot of the Annapurna Mts.; in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha; in Chitwan National Park and Animal Reserve; and then return to our Hotels in KTM. We will travel by MiniVan visiting schools everyday, and once you return to KTM, you will have several days to explore the sights there, the palaces, monasteries and Pashupati Temple. From KTM one can also take an early morning  “mountain flight” along the Himalayas to see Mt Everest by air. There are many things to do in Nepal, from white-water rafting to trekking to Mt. Everest base camp (allow an additional two weeks!), so if you want a more extended stay, please consult with us beforehand, so we so can help fit everything in.

1. The focus of this trip is primarily to introduce you to your Nepali child(ren). You will meet your child and family, and you can take them to a movie or the zoo or shopping (remember do not spoil them: a set of Clothes, books, soccer ball, but not all 3!). If possible you will visit their homes and schools. But some children live too far out (so we might have them bused or flown to KTM) to meet you.

2. This is intended to be a cultural experience. Differences between Nepalis are as vast as those between them and us. Many Nepalis in KTM speak fairly good English, and we will provide you with a few important phrases and guidance in interacting, for example, tipping, bargaining with merchants, looking out for a multitude of scams, meeting the children’s families, etc. There are beggars and poverty (even lepers!) but not to the degree one sees in India. We will help you deal compassionately with other people’s problems without owning them (Imagine me saying this!), e.g., save what you can’t eat and offer the extra pancake, etc, to a hungry, begging mother and child on the street instead of reinforcing their dependency with cash.

3. This is, to some degree, an eco-tour. When we visit Pokhara you will get a sense for the extremes in its topography. Situated at 2500 ft above sea level, there are mtns 25 miles away that are 25,000 ft high!  Notice the forms of heat and cooking while we travel and the impact on the environment.

You can spend a couple of days in Chitwan National Park and Animal Reserve in the lowlands where you will ride elephants and see rhinos, crocodiles, but little hope of seeing a tiger any more. Yes, there are tigers and leopards all around and when they tell you don’t wander off, they mean don’t feed the animals! Included is a jungle walk and a canoe ride. The diversity of flora and fauna in Nepal is unbelievable.

4.  This is, in some small way, a service tour. We may visit a remedial school or a soup kitchen for street children; visit a Hospital for Disabled Children (HRDC) or a Cancer Institute where one of our children was being treated and is now in remission. You’ll gain new insights into poverty and the struggle that most people face throughout the third world. For some this is the most meaningful part of the tour….if it is not your cup of tea, you needn’t drink….just say so.

5.  This is intended to be a safe trip. Check your health insurance coverage. We would, in fact, recommend that you have full-coverage travel insurance, incldg medical evacuation coverage. (I can refer you to one or two companies that offer travel insurance). Fall is mosquito and malaria season, following the monsoon rains of summer. I don’t prophylax other than long sleeves at dawn and dusk (nite), and using DEET. There is no malaria in KTM. Regardless, you will not be able to donate blood for a good while if you come to Nepal because of malaria-paranoia within Blood Banks everywhere.  If you’d rather prophylax against malaria and take a lot of expensive pills, visit your local travel clinic for whatever they use Lariam, TCN, etc. You will need to visit them anyway to get the ORAL typhoid vaccine, and the. Hepatitis A and B vaccinations are also recommended,  so start early. There are Japanese Encephalitis, Dengue Fever Vaccines too, but these too are mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and can be avoided the same way as malaria. Rabies is endemic, but you will not want to associate with dogs in Nepal (They are infested with mites and fleas and god knows what else). By the way, almost every Western antibiotic is available over-the-counter for a fraction of your co-pay here. I doubt if I have spent more than $3 for an entire drug regimen in Nepal and when I come back I never have to fill a prescription. Our medicine cabinet is a pharmacy!

Safe food and beverage is a challenge in Nepal. Drinking water is always a problem. There are many agents of diarrhea and dysentery. If you take a chance, you will get sick. Even if you are very careful, you may still get sick. I am a physician assistant with a Master’s degree in Tropical Medicine and can diagnose and treat most of these, but it’s better to practice preventative medicine. So, only boiled or bottled water and drinks for the entire trip, and No Salads anywhere unless you check with me! After you have seen the butcher shops, you might not want to eat meat. I would also discourage you from ordering beef out of cultural considerations. There are other meats and plenty of Western restaurants everywhere, but you have to learn where to eat and what to order to minimize risk. Saying this, go to the top of the page and reread the first sentence.

6.  Internationall Travel: The hardest part is, without question, the flight to and from Nepal. The flights are long and the connections are often 4-10 hours. I request that all of you take a baby aspirin a day, starting March 15, unless contraindicated (so check with your doctor). I also want you walking in the aisles on the plane every two hours on our long flights both coming and going. Promise! Blood clots are life threatening!

7. Shopping for souvenirs: Don’t worry, you will have opportunities to pick up Tibetan carpets, artwork, handicrafts, statues, brassware, exotic clothing and fabrics. But also don’t forget to bring your drug prescriptions. You can save hundreds of dollars! My dentist in Nepal saved me $1000 on a bridge!

8. How to pack? Unless you wear XXL you can buy clothing for Goodwill prices in Nepal, including shoes of all types. The thing to remember is that all valuables and electronics should be packed in your carry-on. We had a camcorder stolen out of a checked bag. Also use bags that are easy to identify….even carry-ons. Don’t put your wallet or passport down anywhere, not even for a second. A US Passport goes for $10,000 on the blackmarket. So, you get the idea….be careful, be mindful.

9. Electricity is 220V 50 cps, laptops and cameras have built in converters but everything else (most hairdryers) need a 110V converter. Plugs are different and varied and you will need adapters which we can easily get in Katmandu. A three to two prong adapter might be needed if you have any 3 pronged (grounded) plugs. And a surge protector is always a good idea.

So, if you are considering undertaking this trip, email or snail-mail me the information below ASAP: Earle Canfield 2363 Plymouth SE; Grand Rapids MI 49506.  You may call me anytime @ (616) 516-0955 or  jecan314@gmail.com with your questions. Sorry, no fax.

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