Peter and Charlotte enjoy a soft drink in Sangsha on the way from Kailash to Tholing in the Tibet Guge Kingdom
Peter was a real hit with the monks and nuns at Rongbuk Monastery near Everest North Base Camp
Toilet tent on the Everest Kangshung East Face trek in October 1998
Our camp for the night at Ramche (4620m) on the way to Oktang to see Kangchenjunga South Face
The old adage, "take only pictures, leave only footprints" is quite
appropriate. I am truly amazed at people who do things that are so against the local
culture, like dressing inappropriately or walking the wrong way around a
Buddhist stupa. In addition to my comments on begging, here are a few suggestions on how to
enjoy the local culture and not offend anybody.
1. Spend money locally
- Spend as much of your travel budget as possible on local establishments,
like restaurants, hotels, travel/trekking agents, equipment, etc.
- Leave a donation at all religious sights, like Buddhist monasteries
2. Photographing People
- Ask permission before photographing the local people. Spending some time
with them beforehand is a good idea.
- Do not pay to photograph anybody. It sets a bad precedent for other tourists.
- But do promise to mail them a copy of the photo when you get home. And
when you get home, remember to do it.
- Don't buy anything that is endangered or of local cultural value
- Never disturb local cultural objects, like prayer flags or rock carvings
3. Respect local conditions
- Always dress appropriate to local tastes. For example, women shouldn't
wear short shorts in Nepal.
- Always circle a Buddhist religious object, like a monastery, statue or
chorten in a clockwise direction.
- Be careful to show any excessive dislike for the current government.
When German tourists in Lhasa, Tibet, unveiled a 'Free Tibet' banner, they
were immediately escorted out of the country. As my son Pete said, "Don't
make fun of China, or they will kick your ass."
For trekking, please take out what you take in and be extra careful with the
local water supply:
1. The toilet
- If there's a toilet, use it
- If your crew crew are carrying a toilet tent make sure that it is at least 50m away from any water
- If you have to use the toilet outdoors, make sure you are at least 50m away from any water supply. Also, don't bury it - it will
decompose quicker on the surface
2. The camp
- Be polite and ask permission before camping in a non-designated camping
area, like somebody's field.
- Don't allow your trekking agency to use firewood - they should use
- Make sure your crew burn as much garbage
as possible and carry out the rest
- Avoid shortcuts that could damage the local plants or cause future