We traveled in Nepal and Trekked the Annapurna Circuit range for few weeks, with two beautiful souls and long time close friends of us from Amsterdam, Cloe & Guy, that sold their successful business in The Netherlands and stepped out from the system to travel the world and look into alternative way of being and contributing back to society.
On their first Trek to the Langtang Trek in Nepal, they create a mini personal inspiring project to help a Tibetan poor family and manage to turn completely the wheel of luck for them.
The action they took, the contribution and the impact on other peoples life with personal effort and little budget inspired us in all fronts, understanding that it is possible to make a small changes, one at a time, we all can.
Here is their inspiring story as sent out to friends :
“Hey there, we just had a remarkable experience in the mountains of Nepal. Here is our story.
On the Langtang trek through forest and open mountain valleys we meet Tsering, a Tibetan teenage girl. She invites us to her traditional village. After 2 days walking we reach Mundu…. with an adventure awaiting us.
We sleep with her uncle Gyalbu and his beautiful wife Pema in ‘TipTop lodge’. Their stone house is in the green Langtang valley with big mountain peaks watching them. With simple and cosy wooden rooms. From the bed we see high snow-capped mountains, with no other tourist places around, the place seems exclusively for us. In the evening we eat sitting on the floor, around the fire they cook on. We can order from a menu but it turns out they don’t have much. Though they don’t have many ingredients, we see them cook with passion. We observe the family conversations while our plates keep being refilled with well-made food. Gyalbu proudly offers us his home-grown potatoes. Their warm hospitality and generosity make us feel spoiled by people who don’t have much themselves. They offer us whatever they can while telling stories of how they live in this remote place without much local work. It doesn’t seem an easy life, but each time I look into their eyes, I just see humbleness and love. For a moment, we forget we’re visitors and join in the family events.
That night we get to understand why their guesthouse is so deserted. Per year, just few tourists would stop by. The guidebooks advise the tourists to stop in the touristy village Langtang, 20 minutes before Mundu. Unfortunately, most tourists follow that advice and TipTop remains unnoticed, even though they have a much better location and more to offer. The wheel keeps rolling; because they don’t have money, they can’t make the place look attractive to tourists, they can’t buy food, pay for their children’s school, and so the wheel goes on. Despite all, their attitude is not one of a poor one, but one of gratitude and cheerful happiness.
The next day we wake up, look at each other and say: “Let’s help them!” We didn’t now how, but a fire was lit. During the following days of our trek, ideas sprout rapidly and so do our enthusiasm. We return to Mundu to mirror our ideas to their desires and capabilities. They have never asked us anything, nor complained they don’t have money. They seem positive about our ideas and when we say we finance everything, they react with deep gratitude. We ask Gyalbu to meet us in Kathmandu in 10 days.
During the continuing of our trek, ideas keep developing and I sketch a logo. We arrive back in Kathmandu with a plan for TipTop restaurant and a little TipTop shop. Guy devotedly runs between wholesales to research suppliers. I design a business card, a menu, and several promotional posters. 3 Days later we meet Gyalbu, time to start our mission!
2 days later we have a gas cooker, gas balloon, tables, chairs, kitchen equipment, a sound system, an inverter, a UV water filter, decoration, all ingredients for the menu and for the shop. With a big fully loaded jeep we drive back to the Langtang valley. With 7 porters carrying each 40 kilo on their back, we walk as an expedition for 2 days through the mountains. On the way, we stop in guesthouses to hang promotional posters. Many locals get enthusiast from our project and people want to help.
Upon arrival in Mundu, there is a special atmosphere of surprise and disbelief. Pema expects us to return with just gas and tables. It is a celebration unpacking all the boxes. The gas cooker marks the beginning of a new time; no more dependency on chopping wood to cook.
The next morning we arrange the terrace. Before we finish fixing everything, the place is full of customers. Orders with cappuccino’s, espresso’s and sandwiches pour in while Gyalbu and Pema are sitting aside looking in disbelief: “What’s going on on their patio and in their house?!?” Guy and I are running between taking orders, preparing dishes. All day we have no time to teach Gyalbu and Pema how to work.
The second day is the hardest day. They wake up late and nothing is prepared. The yaks are not milked and there is no cheese. As the first customers come in, everything is in a chaos, also for the rest of the day. There is hay floating in the milk. Guy asks to hand over the pesto, and Gyalbu replies: “Pesto, hm, is that coffee?” This moment, our confidence hits the bottom as we think: ‘What did we start on……?’
That night as we walk 3 hours to pick up the cakes from the neighbouring bakery, we explain them about priorities, customer service and structure. Gyalbu eagerly starts making notes and we buy an alarm clock. The hardest things to teach them are to prepare the food on a table instead of the floor, basic hygiene, to organise the house and to work systematically. The next morning the alarm goes at 6am, from 7:00 till 16:00 its business-time! This day, things start to roll more smoothly. In the moment they don’t have a toilet and shower, its costs 120 Euro to build it. They tried saving that for more then a year, but didn’t manage. We explained this to the customers, and within a few hours raised enough money.
Through the coming days, Gyalbu and Pema start working more and more independently. We see big daily improvements and they enjoy their new job very much. The sixth day before we leave, we see Gyalbu inviting passer-bys from the street with a smile, taking their orders and proudly making a cafe latte and an espresso. Pema makes the sandwiches. Before we leave, they put a Tibetan necklace around our neck symbolizing family bonds. Gyalbu spreads butter on our head before we leave as a blessing.
Four weeks later, we get a phone call from Gyalbu. He says they are so happy. He says guests have slept in the rooms every day since we left, and their restaurant is running successful. He now has money to buy more ingredients to make more food. An English couple have taught him how to make Italian pizza’s on the fire and he wants to learn more. He sounds full of inspiration. We hope the wheel has been turned into a positive direction now.
Guy and Cloe.
We have spent 5 days of preparation and buying in Kathmandu, 3 days travelling to get to Mundu and we stayed with them for 6 days to teach them.