A group of Taiwanese tourists are seen learning the art of making botas, leaf plates, from local residents in Kavre in this recent picture. Photo: Jyoti Shrestha/Republica
KATHMANDU, Aug 21: Pin Hua Chen of Taiwan had never watched a cow closely until before she landed in Nepal recently. These days, she wakes up very early morning to milk the cow. She gets ready, picks up a bucket and moves towards the shed. “It’s my daily routine, I am learning to milk cow,” said Huang excitedly. “I will be taking home many sweet memories from Nepal, but the cow part will remain the most fascinating,” she added.
Chen doesn’t just collect milk but also goes to the market to sell it. After the transaction is over, she rushes back home and gets busy in the cowshed again. “I waste no time. I get back to the shed for taking care of the cow. I clean the shed, and keep the cow in comfort,” she narrated.
When she first encountered the cow, she felt that the cow was angry with her. “The facial expression was not that pleasant’. And when the next day she tried to milk her, ‘the cow slapped her with its tail’. But she was determined to milk her at any cost. Chen tried her best to build a connection with the cow.
“The most challenging part was to soothe the cow, I was determined to develop a connection with her and learn milk her,” reported Chen. “Because I learnt to love cow, I have grown so empathetic towards all creatures. This is a kind of life-changing experience.”
Chen has been experiencing all this during her weeklong stay in Patlekhet of Kavre. Soon, she will leave Nepal for Taiwan.
Ssang Ying Huang is no less happy with her Nepal stay. According to Ssang, she wanted to learn several things here, but limited time did not allow it. “Maybe I will come back. I have found this stay so beautiful,” she said.
Ying chose to learn knitting Tapari (plate made of leaves). And in just three days, she came up with perfect size bota (small-sized Tapari). “At first, I could not compete with them. But from the third day I gave them tough competition I guess,” Ssang laughed while showing a bota she had finished knitting. And she did not stop there; she distributed snacks to the women around on the plates she had made. On Tuesday, the family had prepared corn with pickles which Ying served in bota and Tapari (big size plates).
During the first two days of learning the skill of knitting bota, Ying even cut her fingers. The thin sticks pricked her fingertips and, it bled. But she did not give up. “I was so surprised to see that even leave could be used to make a plate. And I had an urge to learn the same,” she said.
And there is Ssiau Ching Huang who loved to spend time with nature rather than learn anything. Never before had she seen a natural water source. “In Nepal, I saw one. And I even drunk water from it directly,” said Ching. “I have clicked hundreds of photos of this natural spring. I am so happy to have come to Nepal and stay here with locals,” she added.
Eighteen nationals of Taiwan, including the above three, are in Nepal for a short visit. And it was there preplan to experience the taste of homestay rather than stay in a hotel.
“We were eager to live like locals, experience their traditions, cultures, lifestyle. That would be something we would not get in luxurious hotels,” said Ching.
Coordinator of Home-stay Service Association of Kavre, Narayan Bahadur Lama shed light on various aspects of homestay in rural areas and why foreigners find it thrilling. “Such groups often visit us in search of some unique experience. We found this group quite enthusiastic about learning something. Each of them tried their hand in one or other things that the locals do,” he said.
According to Lama, foreigners from different countries come to Kavre seeking homestay service. “Due to them, locals here have learnt to speak English and even their manners,” he said.
As per the record of the association, around 1500 international and 800 domestic tourists enjoy homestay services in the district. “We receive guests from the countries like Japan, The Netherlands, Taiwan, and USA,” Lama said.