Wikipedia tells us: “Nepal is a developing country with a low income economy, ranking 145th of 187 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI) in 2014. The tourism sector contributed nearly 3% of national GDP in 2012 and is the second biggest foreign income earner after remittances.”
Well, here at least, we can assume that the owners of hotels and guesthouses would care about their customers, so that tourists would have pleasant memories and would not just go back to Nepal, but also stay in their particular hotel.
It would seem so.
The reality ruthlessly overturns the expectations about friendly and caring hoteliers. Tourists end up facing a dilemma: whether hoteliers secretly despise and hate them, or they just cringe before any tourists, losing their mind and conscience. What’s better? Both options are terribly bad.
I will explain with examples what I mean.
I should say I am an experienced mountaineer and explorer, I have been to Kathmandu and Pokhara many times over the past quarter of a century and stayed in various hotels and guesthouses, so my opinion is based on sufficient experience, I can assure you. Most tourists in Nepal come from China and India. In any case, so it seems, and here’s why. The point is that the Chinese and Indians have their own… to put it politely… national characteristics. The Chinese, for example… how to put it politically correct… no, politically correct will not work. Chinese – they yell. They yell at the top of their voices, especially if they gather into groups of at least 3-4 people. They yell everywhere and under all circumstances. Most frightfully they yell in restaurants and hotel verandas. If somewhere in a restaurant you see a group of Chinese – run away. Run, if you care about your ears and your mental health. I’m not exaggerating. To sit half an hour in the same restaurant with a group of Chinese people means to get out of there with sick ears and indigestion. Do you think I saw at least once in my life that they were approached by the manager and asked to stop the noise? Never in my life. Never and nowhere. Either because the Nepalese get used to the noise, or because any customers are as good as gold for them.
And of course, when the Chinese walk past your room in hotel – whether it’s six in the morning or midnight – you wake up from their cries, their booming laughter which makes the walls shaking. Nobody from hotel staff will ever stop them. Nobody ever thinks that besides yelling tourists there still are sleeping tourists. All managers and hotel owners do not care about the sleeping tourists.
The Hindus have cute features of their own. For incomprehensible reasons they often flatly refuse to live in their room! Maybe they have a general claustrophobia, or maybe they have not yet matured to the concept of “privacy” or maybe it is some other, unknown form of mental disorder, but very often – alas, too often, the Hindus live… with open doors to their rooms. Late at night they can turn on the TV to full volume, sing in chorus, dance or argue – and all this with the door open into the corridor. With open doors they prepare for breakfast, change clothes and wash, and thus to live next to them it’s like to live right in their bed, and given their propensity to make maximum of possible noise, the situation is dramatic. Dozens of times in these situations I addressed to the tourists themselves and try to get the hotel management to do something, but to no avail. The reaction of the staff and management were always the same: “I’m sorry”. I’ll forgive you, maybe, but will I come again to your hotel?..
This infection is widespread – either in expensive hotels or cheap guesthouses. In Kathmandu and Pokhara. In Namche and Jomsom. Everywhere.
In Pokhara hotels are situated very closely, very densely. Wherever you stay – there will be at least a couple of other guesthouses in the vicinity of your windows. A crazy company bawling songs until after midnight and another one yelling full-blast while preparing for departure at six in the morning – this is enough to deprive of sleep all (!!) the tourists from nearby hotels. Is that great for your business, tell me, gentlemen hoteliers?
Of course, I can reproach tourists, too, because many times when I all alone entered into unsuccessful duels with hotel owners, whose guests sing songs and shout in the morning, I never (!!), never in my life have seen any other tourist doing the same thing, or at least trying to help me. Yes, it’s a fact: tourists behave like sheep in these circumstances. They humbly accept this humiliation. But that’s their business, their life, let them live as they want, but I want to ask hoteliers: do you really believe that sleepless nights will encourage customers to come back to your hotel? In fact, you yourself destroy your own business and your country’s business – the only (!!) business that brings foreign currency to the country. The business that feeds you.
I assure you that if in some district of Pokhara dozen hoteliers would agree with each other that they provide silence in the night driving off barking dogs and beeping cars and motorcycles, forbidding some mentally unstable tourists to yell from 22.00 to 10.00, such miracle will be known very quickly to all those planning to come to Nepal again. And all of these hotels would be filled to capacity. And tourists will forgive many shortcomings of your service. That’s what I can’t understand – why aren’t you able or willing to make your hotels chock-full in such a simple way?? After all, nothing could be simpler. Do you really not care about anything? Anyway, these are the thoughts, I think, that creep into the minds of hundreds and thousands of tourists subjected to torture every night.
Of course, Nepalese hotels have a lot of shortcomings. Frankly, they are horrible hotels for the most part. I do not know why they are built like that – maybe also in admiration of uniqueness? The vast majority of local hotels have very small, very dark, very dirty and untidy rooms with extremely rare exceptions to this rule. And if you have, frankly, so bad hotels, can you not at least deprive tourists of sleep?
I think that this situation should be corrected first. I can put up with simple tasteless monotonous food. I can wipe my hands with not a very clean towel. I can sleep on a hard creaking bed, with a brick-hard pillow under my head. I can ask for a table lamp to see at least anything in my room in the evening. I can attribute all of this and more to the couleur locale and even enjoy caveman lifestyle. But pardon… a tourist who is deprived even of normal sleep, turns into an embittered, nervous, immensely tired person, who swears to never come back here. Then what will bring profit to hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, airlines, bus companies, tour guides and porters? How will your country get foreign currency which you need to buy almost everything? Actually, your country produces almost nothing, except rice, and you live in absolute dependence on imports.
I think the government, the ministry of tourism and all those who care about the fate of Nepal, the fate of his family, his business, his work, his ability to buy imported goods – in short – you all have to understand finally that tourism is of paramount importance to your country. It depends on you solely – whether the number of tourists will thin out, or begin to grow steadily, and grow not at the expense of poor backpackers and pilgrims, but at the expense of people willing to pay for their comfort. It all depends on you, on your collective common sense, on your real actions, on whether you are able to unite in order to solve these vital problems.