Giving Back to Nepal #9

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~Portal Bikes ~

We have a few hours left in Kathmandu … before we head home to Minnesota, USA.  I really want to share about Portal Bikes before leaving.

As I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts, it’s hard for me … heart-wrenching …  to say “No”, to people who ask me for money, or send their children to me, pleading for money.  Portal Bikes, is my gateway to donating.  I know this awesome non-profit has the integrity and heart, to touch lives, in a big way throughout Nepal.

William’s absolute enthusiasm led us to visiting the Nepal Store where Amy and I were able to visit with Kevin Persson, the Director of Logistics, and have a tour.  We were able to see how the long and mid tail bikes are put together and hear stories about the impact these bikes are making for Nepali’s – from employment, to growing individual businesses.  They also worked to rebuild villages after the earthquake in 2015.


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Portal Bike Employees – Photo by Amy McLain

Throughout our 3 week stay in Nepal, we saw bicycles used to haul all kinds of things – ladders, garbage, vegetables, and fruits, appliances, groceries, children/families, fish, furniture – and they were often older bikes.  Portal Bikes are making life easier and safer, and for many Nepali’s, their work delivering product is done with speed – thus having the ability to do more and increase their income. Being able to spend time with Kevin, solidified my desire to make a difference for someone in Nepal.

There are different ways to donate through Portal Bikes:

  • One time donation
  • Donate $300 for a Portal Cargo Bike
  • Donate Monthly

Portal is a registered 501c3 organization.  Donations are tax deductible, and they directly impact the lives of people trying to escape poverty.  We work hard to keep our expenses low and our impact high.    


I’m going for the $300 for the Portal Cargo Bike.  Here’s where my money – your money, too – will go regarding the Bike:

We will use your generous donation to manufacture and deliver a bicycle to a person in need. Since we focus on serving the poor, oftentimes we “finance” the bikes, allowing the customer pays an amount upfront and then make weekly payments. Once the bicycle you donated is paid for, we use those same funds to manufacture and deliver another bicycle. The cycle repeats itself indefinitely, meaning that your money will live for a long time, making a difference again and again.

How awesome is that?!

Making a tiny difference in a great big world … one drop that ripples …

Perhaps you’ll join me?

Make sure you mention “William sent me!”  Without his passionate heart, we never would have known about Portal Bikes.

And so, we’re off for home.  Leaving a country that has made a lasting imprint in my heart.

Sending love to all …




Our Friday … #8

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Narayanhiti Palace Museum

Musings about Friday on Saturday Morning.  Our days in Nepal are winding down.  Yesterday, Amy and I had breakfast at Top of the World Coffee, and I commented on how we have established a rhythm to our days.  It’s so enjoyable.  As I sit in the early morning, putting this blog together, William is already up and brought me a cup of coffee – how spoiled am I?!  Kyung and Amy are still nestled in, gathering energy for a new day.  Kyung is leaving today for a weekend work gig, down by Chitwan, so we have a bit of time this morning to share some sightseeing, creating a few more precious memories.  Last night was our last evening together in Nepal.  Kyung, William, Amy and I celebrated by having supper at Vesper Cafe & Restaurant.  My wine friends in Minnesota would love this place.  Italian food and wine – beautiful presentation and scrumptious.  We were able to go into the wine show room …


Earlier in the day, we decided to take a cab – at a ‘chok’ (intersection), across from our coffee shop, and head for Narayanhity Royal Palace, home to Nepal’s kings for over a century.  It was converted into a public museum, in 2008, signifying the country’s transition from a monarchy to a republic.

The holiday is over!  Oh my goodness, the traffic was in full swing!  Our masks were back on – Kathmandu is one of the highest ranking cities (5th) with air pollution.  Arriving at the palace, the line for admission to the palace was long, but we got through quickly.  We were required to leave everything but our billfolds and water in a locked, locker.  Everyone had to go through a body search and walk through a scan before actually entering the grounds.  No photos allowed.  Armed guards were at various posts throughout the property.

It’s a beautiful palace, and the history and various rooms were displayed with descriptions also in English.  Beyond the palace is the house where the Nepalese Royal Massacre occurred on June 1, 2001 – the story goes – after a dinner party held at the palace, Prince Dipendra shot his parents, brother, sister and several other members of his family before turning the gun on himself. In total 10 people died and five were wounded – he was unhappy with his father not allowing him to marry the woman he loved, because she wasn’t in the ‘social class’ he was.  Horribly sad.  It was good to be out on the grounds after that … wandering (under watchful eyes) various paths, viewing ponds and sculptures.

We decided on a late lunch before heading back.  On a top floor outdoor restaurant, I was able to take a picture of the palace – 1st photo of blog.  I’m also including the roof-top of another business.  Solar power is used everywhere here.  Much more-so than the USA.  Even the street lights (only in parts of the city), use solar.  So impressed.  Readily available resource, hm?  Put to very good use ….

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Solar Power

We caught a cab back ‘home’ – (I’m getting pretty good at handling pricing and crossing streets with crazy traffic ; ))  It was a great adventure.  Also time to take a break – we’re getting better at pacing ourselves, too, realizing going at top speed, leaves one too exhausted to do more.  We went for a trek later in the afternoon, stretching ourselves with neighborhood boundaries.  I have always felt safe here.  It’s a nice place to BE.

Sending Love and Light …



Nepal Adventure Continues – #6



Debbie and Amy

For friends, not on Facebook … you’re getting updates!   I’m back with a computer.  Facebook Friends … you’ll be getting some repeats! 

Saturday 9/23 – We went to Le Sherpa’s Farmers Market and saw a wonderful variety of food, art and people visiting and enjoying a picnic on the grounds. What a great morning.  We also stopped at a shop, where I found some beautiful tunics and was given a discount because of the upcoming holiday.  From there, Amy and I went to Kathmandu Durbar Square.  Stunning temples … extraordinary architecture and history.  Lots of shops and lots of people, particularly crowded due to the upcoming holiday.  What is this holiday?  It’s from September 20 to October 5 and called Dashain. “Dashain is the most important festival to Nepalis. It is a celebration of good prevailing over evil. Most families offer male goats, ducks, chickens, eggs and coconuts to the goddess Durga. People return to their home villages and spend the fifteen-day festival with their families. Large swings are set up for children, and from the tenth day, family members receive Tika (rice, red vermillion and yoghurt) on their foreheads from their elders.”
One more stop: Wisdom Book & Aroma Shop in Jhamsikhel, Lalitpur .  It was a great finish for our day.  We visited with Vipin Kumar, the owner, and his delightful wife for a few hours.  Great book selection for young and old, trekkers and tourists, plus gifts and scents that will pleasantly remain a memory for a long time.


Vipin – Said “Yes!” to photo – by Amy McLain

Sunday – We stayed low-key and rested – sort of.  We’re meeting with Himalaya Expeditions, Inc – in the morning for details regarding our 6 day/5 nights, “Golden Triangle” tour, beginning on Tuesday.

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Leaving Kathmandu Valley to explore the “Golden Triangle”

Will write more later!  Thanks for your good wishes and comments, they are appreciated! xxxxx

Namaste ~ Debbie


Our Friday … #5

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At The Great Boudha Stupa

Friday?!  I think it’s Friday!! Amy and I ventured out on our own, finding a taxi … is not a problem, as they are everywhere and seek YOU out.  We have yet to pay the same price for a ride, no matter where we go!  Our morning was spent at Swayambhunath Stupa … or The Monkey Temple, it is one of the holiest Buddhist Chaityas in Nepal and the oldest of its kind.  Legend has it that Swayambhu was born out of a lotus flower that bloomed in the middle of a lake that once spread across the Kathmandu Valley.  This sacred pilgrimage site is also home to hundreds of monkeys considered holy to Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus. According to legend, Manjushree, the bodhisattva of wisdom, was in the process of raising the temple hill when the lice in his hair transformed into these monkeys.

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Swayambhunath means self-arisen and is derived from that legend.The stupa is on the top of the hill, to reach it, you climb very steep stairs – 365 of them – and it is worth every. single. step.


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Buddhists and Hindus visit the Monkey Temple through out the day, it is said it’s perhaps the best place to observe religious harmony in Nepal.  It’s so amazing to be in a space where honoring each other, no matter who you are, matters.  There are several ornate temples and shrines surrounding the Monkey Temple and we spent time BEing there, trying to absorb the grandeur of it all.

There were also many, many vendors, and poor people, all hoping you will stop and buy their goods, or give out money.  That was/is hard.  Tiny children are sent out to beg … saying no, is heart wrenching.

After resting at the bottom of Monkey Temple, we decided our next stop to be: The Great Boudha Stupa.  There are several people who seek you out and offer their services as a guide.  A young man, who said to call him Susan (pronounced differently than our English version), was persistent and polite, so we agreed to have him join us in our next adventure. (Note: it’s good to get a price for services before you head out … we didn’t!)  Susan is Nepali, and had a friend with an air conditioned car, so off we went in crazy traffic (holiday, so people heading out of town, just like we do)!  I have to consciously let go of angst while being in the midst of it – and we also wear our masks to filter the air pollution.

The contrast between the outside world and entering this stupa was amazing.

The Great Boudha Stupa’s massive mandala makes it one of the largest spherical stupas in Nepal.  You walk clockwise around it.  Budda’s eyes are on you always.  Buddist people believe that the relics of Kashyapa Buddha, were enshrined in the dome.  It is religious, cultural and archeologically very important and a major destination for pilgrims all over the world … and we were one of them!

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There are 4 Monasteries – The Guru Lhakhang Monastery is one of the oldest monasteries around the Boudha area.  The public is not allowed inside, but we were able to take pictures.

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A Holy Place ….

Included around the Boudha Stupa: The Ajima Temple – The Temple of Goddess Mamo Pukasi who is known as the protector of the stupa area.  She is also known as wish fulfilling goddess. The Ghyoilisang Peace Park and Historical Tinchuli – name originated from the 3 big rocks which were used in the fireplace for cooking for workers during the construction of the Boudha Stupa.

All of this was emotional … I’m trying to soak it all in.  BEing present.  BEing filled in ways, Spiritually, that cannot be explained with words …

It was time to take a break at Cafe Du Temple.  I chose a traditional Napolise food – it was delicious!

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One more stop for the day … Pashupatinath Temple …. in order to save words, it’s easier to share by clicking on the link.  It is the largest temple complex in Nepal, it stretches on both sides of the Bagmati River which is considered holy by Hindus. Cremation of Hindus take place on raised platforms along the river. Only Hindus are allowed inside the gates of the main temple.

The human body and the universe consist of five elements in Hindu texts – air, water, fire, earth and space.  The last rite of passage returns the body to the five elements and its origins.  The circle of life.

All those who attend the cremation, and are exposed to the dead body or cremation smoke take a shower as soon as possible after the cremation, as the cremation ritual is considered unclean and polluting.  The cold collected ash from the cremation is later consecrated to the river

In some regions, the male relatives of the deceased shave their head and invite all friends and relatives, on the tenth or twelfth day, to eat a simple meal together in remembrance of the deceased. This day, in some communities, also marks a day when the poor and needy are offered food in memory of the dead.

The reverence and logical passage of life is powerful to witness.

…. It was time to go home … our guide and taxi driver delivered us to Top of the Hill Coffee – we were given the price for the 5 hours spent – and without bartering skills, we accepted it!

The experience …. priceless.

We chatted with Kyung and William – learned more about the technique of pricing for services and also discussed an over-priced quote we had gotten for a 3 night/ 4 day tour.  We’re learning!

… And then, I had a melt-down!  Emotional over-load.  The energy experienced over the past days caught up with me.  Crying is a great release … and and understanding travel partner ; ) along with Kyung and William … and daughter, Jessica.  Whew!  A wonderful haircut and a bite to eat, helped alot, too.

I went to sleep with a grateful heart ….



Kathmandu … Here We Come! #4


We’re off!

First stop: Dubai


The sun was streaming through the windows as we landed, so I was able to get a sense of the immense desert that ripples in the wind … and the intense morning heat.


Flying into Dubai

About 34 hours after leaving Washington DC we arrived in Kathmandu.  The morning after, we enjoyed coffee and breakfast a few steps from the apartment: Top of the World Coffee is a favorite, already!

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William took Amy and me out on a trek around the neighborhood, across the river from Kathmandu.  People are kind.  Traffic is crazy – really.  USA metro traffic has nothing on these drivers.  Lots of horns, scooters, with sometimes 3 people riding, bicycles that are also used for various transportation of goods needed.  The streets are narrow, sometimes hard surfaced, sometimes not.  Shops line the streets, often the shop owners sit outside their doors to greet you when you walk by, with a welcoming, “Namaste”.

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Refrigerator being delivered.

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New construction – bamboo scaffolding.

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Amy in Thamel – Incredible Shopping Experience!

Thursday, we girls went to Garden of Dreams in Kathmandu. Words can’t describe the beauty.  Such a peaceful place within a bustling city.  Here are a few favorite pictures:

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We were encouraged by Kyung and William to look into a private tour package and are waiting for some details …. hmmm … I’ll keep you posted!

I could not have dreamed a dream this BIG!

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and best wishes …

Sending Love to All ~ Debbie