Have you ever wanted to spend time with local people to get to know a place better? Have you ever dreamed of having friends when you arrive at a new place for the first time? Friends to show you around, to host you, to help you have a memorable experience. If you’re as into cultural immersion as I am, then a Community Homestay in Nepal is the right experience for you.
The Community Homestay Program connects local people with travelers. People from the same village or town unite to offer homestay accommodation by renting out a room in their house while following industry standards. If you decide to join in with optional cultural activities, not only do you experience the country in the most authentic way, but you also support the local community.
The absolute highlight of my recent trip to Nepal was my experience at the Community Homestay in Tansen, Palpa. After hours on curvy mountain roads, we didn’t realise what a great surprise awaited us. We were welcomed at one of the town squares by people from the community playing and singing traditional songs, dancing, giving us blessings, flowers, and traditional accessories (scarves and topis).
After a heartfelt welcome speech from a young lady with impeccable English, the band of men and women continued performing traditional music with some interesting instruments, clapping and singing. Some dared to dance and show their skilled moves, and some of the guests joined them.
We continued in smaller groups to different homestay houses. We were just time for lunch at the house of the Bashyal family, the Sunrise View Homestay. It overlooked the whole town and the terraced valley. Rukmagat and Madhu were wonderful hosts made us an amazing homemade lunch on the rooftop of their house. They were just opening the homestay so we were probably their first guests. Their four rooms were brand new and most offered amazing views. The place is called Sunrise View for a reason!
The biggest surprise for me was their extremely friendly and hospitable kids, Krijal and Ritik. They spoke amazing English and were so happy to meet new friends. Krijal is also one of the best dancers I’ve met; she taught us and demonstrated some traditional dance moves. Ritik is really talented in singing and beatboxing–those Nepali kids are full of surprises, really! We spoke to the whole family about what it took to build the house, what is going on in school, how to cook those amazing Nepali dishes. I wished we’d had more time to stay with the family and talk. It was a pure honor to meet such honest and authentic people who were really excited to host people from all over the world.
In the afternoon we reunited with our friends who were staying at other homestays in Tansen, and who were all enjoying their stay as much as we were. We walked down the central street, observing everyday life in Tansen: tailors creating beautiful clothes, blacksmiths crafting souvenirs.
Leaving our hosts, we said dozens of “thank yous” and “namastes”, and promised to meet again. I can’t wait to go back and visit them for longer. The Palpa area is full of both Nepali culture and natural wonders. When you add the hospitality of the local people and the smiles of those children, you could easily fall in love with the place and stay there for a long time.
Article and photos by Bistra Yakimova, The Magic of Traveling