Nepal is a country that knows how to leave a lasting impression. There is so much to this little country, yet most people think of Nepal as little more than just mountains and treks. The madness of Kathmandu, the splendid mountain views seen from juddering buses, the warmth of the locals, random cows slumbering in the middle of the busy roads, colorful temples, bizarre encounters, and so much more.
What makes a vacation experience authentic? There are several ways to answer that question. When you are in Nepal and want to live like a local, you need to live like a Nepali, cook like a Nepali, and dance like a Nepali. Here we have presented six must-try experiences to get into a Nepali’s skin and live like one.
Try your hands at wood work
Wood work is an integral and intricate part of Nepali design culture, where historically, everything from palaces to temples to homes are adorned with some kind of wooden work. This craft can be most prominently witnessed in the window sill decorations (AnkhiJhyal) in Kathmandu Valley.
There are several wood workshops in and around the older parts of Kathmandu where you can learn this ancient craft. The process includes steps like choosing a design, marking it out on a block of wood, practicing on a spare block of wood, and finally carving it out in your actual piece with chisels.
Attend cooking classes
Nepali cuisine is a wonderful blend of Indian and Tibetan delicacies. Be it the staple Dal Bhaat; exquisite dishes from different ethnic communities; or the ever popular, Momos! You can learn making Nepali dishes anywhere – from keen culinary schools to local eateries to a loving Nepali home.
You can have fun making momos, the favourite Nepali snack. First start by kneading the dough, preparing the filling to stuff your momo, and finally folding your momos up carefully and steaming them. You will be taught the whole process readily by any party involved in cooking/teaching.
Make you own Khukuri
You are probably familiar with the fierce Gurkhas and their infamous weapon, Khukuri. However, if you think of it as something that is only used in a bloodshed, you are wrong. In Nepal, Khukuri is a household utility tool that is used to chop firewood, cut grass, and even slice veggies and meat at home. In the countryside, you will see most farmers going around with a Khukuri tucked under their belt.
Khukuris are also a popular, unique souveneir to take back home. In a Khukuri workshop, you can create your own customized, miniature version of Khukuri. Firstly, you will cut and hammer the raw piece of iron into a proper shape. Your host will then grind the blade, while you make the wooden handle.
Paint your own Thangka
Thangka painting style of art has been around in the Nepali art scene for several centuries. Thangkas are full of symbolism and hidden meanings. While it may first seem to be for aesthetic purposes, Thangkas, typically depicting images of deities, Buddha, and manadalas in most intricate forms, hold more meaning than what meets the eye.
During Thangka painting classes, which are easily found in an around older parts of Kathmandu Valley, you will be taught to make something basic that can be completed in about 3-4 hours. You will be taught to utilise the cornerstone techniques of Thangka art, which includes creating horizontal line and small dots, to bring out the vest from your piece.
Carve your own wooden mask
Meticulously carved, colourful masks occupy an essential part in Nepali cultural and religious scene. Be it theones worn by “divine” dancers in countless dance forms in the Kathmandu Valley or the ones worn during the celebration of Tiji festival in Upper Mustang, masks elevate the scene and mood of any festival when coupled with ferocious dancers dressed in outlandish attires.
You can visit a workshop located in any part of the older towns to make your own customized masks that are known to bring prosperity and good fortune. Once you have drawn and designed how you want your piece to look, the master carver will be at your side to guide you step by step into the carving process.
Go on a shopping spree at Asan
Asan, located in the heart of the Kathmandu, is more than a mere market place for local. In Asan, life begins as early as 3 am as vendors pour in from all over to sell tea and fresh produces. This centuries-old maze of little stone-paved streets with one main street cutting through them all is the go-to place for shopping if you want to buy authentic Nepalese goods to take back home.
Here, you can buy antiques, replicas of these antiques, and rare Himalayan spices to add some Nepali flavours to your cooking. You can buy anything from yak tails to dried fish. You can also buy copper utensils and statues, and traditional utensils at a great value.