Post- Kopan Monastery visit - May 8 - May 12, 2018
Hi Tashi and Prajwol,
Sorry I've taken so long to review but I was thinking it over and didn't want to write exactly how I was feeling at the time. I'm going to just give a breakdown of my experiences on the trip you planned for me.
Day 1- the touring day.
The guide was very knowledgeable and he made the whole experience quite pleasant for my friend and me. We do recommend using him in the future. However, there were two situations where we felt VERY uncomfortable. I had been feeling off about it and when I asked my friend she said she also felt the same. It sort of felt like our guide had made prior deals to try to force us into spending more money than we wanted to. First time we felt this way was when we stopped for lunch in the Square. Our guide took us to an EXTREMELY expensive restaurant, where the food was VERY average. In fact it might have been the worst food I had during my entire 17 days in Nepal, and yet it cost more than double the meals I had in Thamel. When I went to ask why my food was taking so long to arrive (my friend's food had arrived about 15 minutes before mine) I found our guide lounging with the owners as if they were friends. When he saw me he got up very quickly as if he was trying to hide his affiliations. This is when I got very suspicious. I might be wrong but my friend felt the same way.
The second time was when we were going through the old city and we stopped outside an art school. He told us a bit of its history and ASKED us if we wanted to go in to see the artworks. We, of course, said yes. When we got to the top one of the masters was patiently waiting for us and immediately started giving us a tour of the art. This gave us more suspicions because it was DEFINITELY prearranged. Which means either I had PAID for this tour (in which case I don't understand why our guide asked if we wanted to go in), or else our guide had organized it. When the tour ended the master painter became VERY forceful about us buying art. He kept repeating that it was our choice but he did it in such as way that make us feel we didn't actually have a choice. We told him multiple times that we didn't have money and they kept in forcing the subject and came up with alternative ways for us to buy (eg they charging our hotels or the guide and us paying them back). My friend even mentioned how uncomfortable they made her feel.
I might obviously be wrong about the guide trying to scam us a little, but either way we learnt a lot about the history of Nepal from him so we enjoyed that.
If I am wrong about the guide, and he took us to such an expensive restaurant as it was part of the normal program then I'm more disappointed in you guys as I told you repeatedly that I didn't have a lot of money as I'm a student so I definitely didn't appreciate the poor planning there.
The driver for day 1 was really professional, I really recommend him for future use.
Day 2 and 3- trekking.
This was my biggest disappointment for my entire trip to Nepal. The first day of trekking was better than the second. It went through the forests and several farms so I definitely enjoyed that. It was only a little underwhelming but I was expecting the second day to be better so at the time I was happy. The second day to Nagorkot was VERY VERY disappointing. So much so that I was very irritated with whomever chose this route for me. There was so much construction the ENTIRE 7 or 8 hours, and on top of that I'm sure 95% of the trip was on the road. This isn't what I wanted at all, in fact it might have been the exact opposite of what I wanted. Perhaps you weren't completely aware of this but that just shows poor planning, because it was not a good experience. I actually felt like I wasted one of my few days left in Nepal because of this last trekking day.
My guide Pemba was good. He gave me space to just be by myself which is what I wanted, and he answered my questions whenever I had them. My conversations with him left a bit to be desired but that might have been my fault since I had had little sleep the night before so I didn't have the energy for much conversation. The lodge and guesthouse you booked for me were very disappointing as well. I understand the lodge being how it was but I expected way more from the guest house.
The driving that got me to the trekking start was fine. The driver that took me from Nagorkot to the water rafting was NOT good. But my experience with him was very likely Pemba's fault. This is the only thing I did NOT like about Pemba- he made me worry unnecessarily. The night of day 3 he told me that breakfast will be at 6 and then we will leave for 6.30 as it will take us long to get to the water rafting. He said it will be tight but we should make it on time. When I came for breakfast the next morning at 6.05 my breakfast hadn't even been made yet and Pemba started reprimanding me on my bad time. He didn't outright say it but he basically said "if you miss your river rafting then this is clearly not my fault". This honestly made me very irritated with him. He made me feel like I was a child who had no sense of responsibility. I finished eating at 6.15 and when I said I'm going to brush my teeth and then we can go he again made a comment that if we late it is my fault not his. I really didn't appreciate it. We left at 6.20 (10 minutes BEFORE he said we needed to leave) and he again made a comment about how we might miss the river rafting. So of course I worried. This is where I really started to dislike my driver that took us to the river rafting. Within the first 20 minutes he pulled us over so he could speak on the phone to his family. Normally I wouldn't have minded but Pemba got the idea that we were going to be late into my head so I was worried. After about 5 min we started again. Within 10 min he pulled us over again to phone someone else. He did this a third time. After an hour he pulled us off again so he could go to the toilet (which he should have done before we left if we had such a tight schedule). We ended up arriving over an hour BEFORE it started so all my worrying caused my Pemba was for nothing.
Other than this though, Pemba was great. He was well mannered and was always trying to make me more comfortable (whether it be him carrying my sleeping bag, or making sure my food arrived and that I had enough of it, or making sure my drinks were cold). So because of this I still highly recommend him for future use because even though I very much disliked the trekking route, he made it better.
Day 4- white river rafting.
This was by far my most memorable activity in Nepal. I had an absolutely incredible time. I highly recommend it for future suggestions to tourists. Traveling through the valleys was incredible and we saw monkeys and loads of mountain ranges. Was definitely a highlight for me.
I honestly found my experiences unusual because we had spoken at such great length about what I was wanting and not wanting. I'm not sure if I will use KimKim again in the future. You were UNREASONABLY expensive. I saw the prices for the lodges and guest houses, for my breakfast/lunch/dinner during the trekking, for the river rafting and for guided tours. What I didn't see was what the price for private cars was but I assumed it was between 5000 rupees and 10000 rupees per day. Even with this by my calculations you overcharged me by about 25 000 rupees. Plus I still had to pay tips which came to another 7000 rupees. Plus on top of this the reason you told me that you couldn't provide prices to me was because you were receiving special DISCOUNTS from the companies, so the trip should have been even cheaper. I honestly felt very cheated, whether it was because of poor planning or else you just taking advantage of my ignorance in prices, either way I didn't appreciate it.
I did like the fact that you came to meet me in person to introduce the guides etc. It was professional and I appreciated it. But that courtesy wasn't enough to fix it all.
Overall I'd give a 6/10 stars for the trip, but it is only so high because of how much I enjoyed the river rafting.