What makes a vacation authentic to the destination? There are many ways of answering that question. When you are in Nepal and want to live like a local Nepali, you need to cook like a Nepali, eat like a Nepali, sing and dance like a Nepali, and smile like a Nepali. Here are some must-try experiences for becoming a certified ‘local’ in Nepal.
Nepal’s Favorite Snack: MOMO
Have fun making momos, this favourite Nepali snack. Start by kneading the dough, preparing the ingredients to stuff into your momos, folding your momos up and finally cooking them. At a lesson, you will be taught the whole process.
Make your own khukuri
In the countryside you will see most farmers going around with a khukuri tucked under their belt. This knife is used to chop firewood, cut grass, and even cut vegetables in the home. This icon of the Gurkha warriors is a symbol of pride to Nepalis all over the world.
Khukuris comes in all sizes but in this workshop, you will make a miniature version. You will cut and hammer the iron into shape. Your host will grind the blade and then you will make the wooden handle.
Make and play your own Madal (Nepali Congal)
The madal, or Nepali congal, is a typical musical instrument used to accompany Nepali folk songs. (The madal is played horizontally, while the congal is placed on the ground vertically).
In this workshop, you will be provided with a basic wooden log already carved out to form the hollow cavity of the madal. You will cover this will dried goat skin to make it into a percussion instrument. You then attach leather strings and paint it with a mixture of black iron powder and glue to ‘tune’ the madal for you. As it can take a few hours to dry, you are advised to collect your madal the following day, when you can be given a musical lesson before you leave.
Paint your own Thangka
Thangka paintings are full of symbolism and meaning. Typically depicting images of deities, images of Buddha and mandalas, they are impressive art forms. The very process of making the Thangka also holds significance and they are used as teaching tools to depict the life of Buddha or to show some of his teachings. Buddhists often use them as a focus for meditation on the path of enlightenment. As a thangka can take up to a month to complete, for this workshop you will be limited in what you can complete. However, for the few hours that you have, you will be taught the fundamental stages of Thangka art.
Carve your own wooden mask
Carved from a single piece of wood, these masks symbolize prosperity and good fortune. After you have drawn and designed how you want your mask to look, the master carver will be at your side to guide you step by step in the carving process.
Throw your own pot
With a long tradition of pottery, pots play an integral part of everyday life for storage, carrying water, lamps and decorative purposes. Starting from the basics, throw your own pot on a traditional potter’s wheel. When you have your pot, decorate it with typical Nepalese designs. Ensure you allow a couple of days for the pottery to dry before it can be fired and collected.
Stone Carving Workshop
Learn how to carve traditional Nepali patterns and understand the meaning behind them. Stone carving is not as hard as it looks and under the tuition of experienced stone carvers, you will be shown how to carve your own inscriptions on stone. You don’t even need to be strong as it’s all about care and precision, not brute force.
Food Tour: What the locals like to Eat
Try out four of the favourite snacks that Nepalese people like best. You are taken to sample samosas, momos, pani purri and lassi. Exploring the narrow and busy streets of Asaan, near to New Road, you will pass many little local temples along the way. Starting at a shop that sells samosas, you can also try aloo paratha, momos and finish off with lassi, a typical drink made with curd.
Shopping in Kathmandu: Colour and Chaos
Kathmandu’s Asaan market is a kaleidoscope is colour and chaos whether you are in the streets dedicated to selling clothes, kitchenware, jewelry or spices. The narrow alleys are like a maze, invariably with small temples every few hundred yards. However, this can be daunting to the first time visitor, or if you want to go shopping for something in particular. Depending on your interests, you will be taken on a tour based on what you want (garments and fabric, food and spices, jewelry, metal and brassware, traditional clothes like sarees, dhakas, bhotos, handicrafts like paper lanterns, wood and stone carvings).
Eat like a Gurkha
Starting the day with a hearty traditional plate of dal bhat, you are shown how to make this staple Nepali dish that includes rice, dal, vegetable or meat curry dish and tomato chutney. You are then taken to a master blacksmith’s workshop where your will be shown how to make your own miniature dal bhat, you are shown how to make this staple Nepali dish that includes rice, dal, vegetable or meat curry dish and tomato chutney. Finally you are shown how to make momos, the popular Nepali snack. After you finish cooking and eating, you will also be given an insight into how chang and raksi, a homemade brew and liquor are made.