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Nepal Travel Culture Shock – Be Prepared

Nepal Travel Culture Shock – Be Prepared
by Keri Gormley

There are certainly thousands of descriptive articles about travel to Nepal and the many attractions and sights to see as well as people’s family vacation experiences. These articles do a great deal of describing the “what” and “where,” but very few choose to address and deal with the inter personal experiences of travel to Nepal. The cultural topics of Nepal travel. One such topic is the idea of culture shock, an idea that can be both a welcome and a rather startling experience for any tourist.

There are hundreds of definitions to what Nepal culture shock is, but in the plainest of English, it’s the apprehension and feelings of surprise, disorientation, uncertainty and anxiety one experiences when faced with surroundings and cultural norms very different from those at home.

Culture shock on some level, is felt when traveling to any country even remotely different from one’s homeland. As such, the culture shock one feels when traveling to Nepal may be significant, brought on by Nepal’s substantial cultural contrasts.

Being flexible, open-minded and participating in non-judgmental observation are some of the necessary adjustments that have to be made for sanity reasons when choosing to travel to Nepal as well as being mentally prepared to cope with the cultural differences that will be seen.

Your first 10 minutes in Nepal can give you a more intense feeling of culture shock than three months traveling through Europe. It can be surprising, when you finally land at the airport and walk to collect your things, (more on this in the visa and airport tips section) to find complete strangers roughly pulling your luggage from the conveyor belt and throwing the bags into an empty spot on the dirty ground. When you get in a taxi to go to your hotel you just might be surprised at the driving laws – or lack thereof. High speeds with the chaos of the busy Kathmandu city and many small pieces of information for your brain to process at one time can be disorienting and when your driver passes a car by merely driving into oncoming traffic it will create a feeling of anxiety.

Your route will pass a blur of ethnic Nepali women (more on Nepal’s ethnic groups) in brightly colored printed dresses buying and selling merchandise, Nepali men laughing in a large group, police men wearing what looks like a hospital mask calmly sitting on a well groomed horse observing the swarms of pedestrians, wild dogs and sacred cows are seen eating a buffet from the local garbage piles and boys and boys hold hands walking down the street while it is a rarity to see a man and woman doing the same. Pedestrians attempting to cross the street, step forwards in front of vehicles then backwards always being flexible with the changing traffic conditions from moment to moment.

A repetitive sound that is somewhat annoying and alarming at first, are constant car and motorcycle horns blaring. Your nerves will learn that these sounds are actually not supposed to be an alert noise as they are in the western world, but here, they are helpful hints that say ‘I am here, so do not hit me with your car’ or the horn can also mean ‘Hello pedestrian, I see you but I will not be stopping or slowing down to let you cross the road, so you better wait.’ Occasionally a taxi driver will seem to be stocking walking tourists and when the travelers turn to see who is following them the driver will let out a nice ‘honk’ but it is their way of offering you a ride – by you paying them for their services.

As you zip along in the taxi your gaze might suddenly focus on a cow that is standing with no urgency to move in the middle of your driving path! In the nic of time your driver will swerve around the animal as if it were a typical roundabout.

Avia Travel NepalBesides the live ‘middle of the street’ cow statues, you will see dogs roaming the streets. They wander the neighborhoods aimlessly and they sleep wherever they please even following the influence of the cow by taking rest in the middle of the street. It will be a shock the first time (maybe every time) to watch a motorcycle drive past these unmoving dead looking dogs. The tires come within inches of the animals snout and the dog will not even stir at their near-death experience.

For those wanting to travel to Nepal, expect daily life activities that are not normal to you and your home country. Much of the alarming and disorientating effects of culture shock felt when you travel to Nepal, can be avoided by preparing yourself for the cultural differences and a better understanding of Nepal as a country in general. Read books or Nepal travel articles and dig deeper than the generic ‘travel’ guides by getting information about the countries social aspects.

It is impossible for anyone to travel to Nepal and avoid contact with the contrasts between Nepal and your homeland, and it is likely one of the reasons you are going, but doing a little research before you travel will help to prepare you mentally for when these contrasts become part of your reality and will only add ease to the coping with strange situations and increase your enjoyment of travel in Nepal.

For more related article on Nepal Travel please visit the Nepal Travel Articles Section.

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