Visiting Nepal

Which trek should I do?
Good question. We hiked the Annapurna Circuit in May 2011 and to Everest Base Camp in October 2011. See the Trekking tab for our detailed guides to those trips as well as our post on deciding between the two. Don't forget that there are other great hikes in Nepal. If you are strapped for time, consider the Poon Hill Trek from Pokhara, which is much shorter than Annapurna or Everest but still gives a taste of the trail and the possibility of some stunning views. It's the Himalayas -- it's hard to go wrong.

I'm coming to Kathmandu! Any suggestions?
Yes! Check out our sightseeing guide. Also, we have included some restaurant and accommodation suggestions for those passing through Kathmandu on your way to or from the mountains.

Moving Abroad

Why Nepal?
With plans to conduct thesis research in Southwestern China scuttled by the SARS epidemic in summer 2003, Claudine was forced to adjust her plans and relocate her studies to Kathmandu. This is where her love affair with Nepal began, and it has since only grown with subsequent visits, including Brian's first exposure for their honeymoon in 2008. Given these experiences, Nepal was an obvious choice when we decided to move abroad, an idea hatched in August 2009. Yet, familiarity alone cannot describe the magnetic pull of this country, its culture, and its people. To find out exactly what we're talking about, you'll just have to visit for yourself. For now, we hope this blog will help shed some light on this place that has become so special to us both.

Were you employed in Nepal?
In January 2011, Claudine began a four-month tenure as a Kiva Fellow, working with a local microfinance institution focused on aiding female entrepreneurs in the Kathmandu Valley. After completing her fellowship, she worked as a freelance consultant in international development. Brian taught conflict management and negotiation at a local college. Both were involved in entrepreneurial ventures utilizing a social business model.

So, you guys must be trust fund babies, right?
We wish. This was a common question posed/accusation lodged when Brian's departure from work as a corporate lawyer garnered some outside attention. We are here to report that, unfortunately, we are still making payments on our existing educational loans and neither of us is sitting on a trust fund (unless some long-lost great aunt comes bounding out of the woodwork). A combination of sacrificial saving and debt payment while in Chicago coupled with the cost of living in Nepal has made this adventure financially feasible at the moment. We weren't satisfied with where we were in our lives and after much deliberation and planning decided to make changes. Our changes may have been more risky and drastic than others', but what could be more risky and drastic than knowingly continuing down the wrong path? We weren't aware that it was a prerequisite to have a trust fund to quit your job, but it's our opinion that if you're waiting for the "perfect time" and situation to make a large and at times uncomfortable or, hell, scary change in your life, then you may be waiting a long time indeed.

How do I get a visa to stay in Nepal when my tourist visa expires?
Learn from our mistakes! We have written detailed posts on how to get a student visa and how to get a research visa in Nepal. This information is surprisingly hard to find, and the process is more difficult than we initially assumed. Good luck!

Camera, Photos, Use of Content, and Blog Design

What kind of camera and lenses do you use?
We use a Nikon D5000, which we purchased after much research. We had previously used a Nikon single lens reflex (SLR) before the world went digital, and we loved that camera, so the D5000 already felt intuitive to us. It is also a great starter digital SLR for novice photographers (that's us!). As a photography instructor told us, a more expensive camera body will be more durable but will not noticeably improve your pictures. So, our advice is to make sure not to drop or otherwise harm your camera and instead invest your money in lenses.

As for lenses, we recommend buying a camera body without the kit lens, which is notoriously low quality in most starter digital SLR packages. Our everyday lens is the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX. This 35mm lens works very well in low-light situations and produces photos with excellent clarity. In addition, it is very affordable. The lens does not offer a zoom capability, but that's what your arms and legs are for -- just move your body to snap a close-up.

That said, we also sometimes use a zoom lens, the Nikon 55-200mm AF-S DX. It is an entry-level zoom lens and as such does not boast great quality, but it was relatively inexpensive and does give us the ability to get shots like the images of monkeys in this post (trust us -- you don't want to get too close to monkeys around here).

Can I use your photographs on my website?
Thanks for the flattery! Please just talk to us first. Our photographs are copyrighted, and we do not permit the use of our photos without our consent.

Can I reproduce your stories and recipes on my website?
Please do. We only ask that you link to the original blog post or recipe on www.thekathmanduo.com.

Who designed the layout of this site?
We did. We knew nothing about website design before beginning this blog, but we jumped in head first. Thanks to Blogger's user-friendly and customizable platform, as well as the many discussion forums online, we managed to get this site up and running mostly with our own research and persistence. It was a bit of a rough afternoon when Claudine set out how to construct a table in html, but she triumphed in the end.

Who designed the banner for the site?
The banner graphic for this blog was created by design artist Luke Emeott. He also worked with us on several html code elements that were above our heads.