Keeping it local
On our last day in Patan, Nepal, my friend Kate and I walked along Pulchowk road for a few gifts to take home. It was a stark contrast to our experience in the tourist area of Thamel and I highly recommend the small trip to Patan for a more local and friendly feel.
We floated in and out of small boutiques where we tried on bright saris, leafed through handmade paper goods and twirled large woven lampshades made out of local bamboo. Everything incredibly affordable and made with love.
A passion for produce
Although I’m not a fan of shopping I do enjoy anything that celebrates local craft and has a story.
One stall had two men making huge silver trunks that were popular for transporting goods. We watched mesmerised by the folding of steel as seamless as the art of origami. He allowed us to stand there and take photos, clearly proud of his work.
Just a few doors down we entered a gift shop who’s owner immediately explained the prayer beads we were wearing. He was so enthusiastic about sharing his wisdom and knowledge about Buddhism, it was a very special experience because of his kindness and smile.
I walked out with local, organic incense sticks that are used for sound meditation. As I was paying the shopkeeper started to talk me through the benefits of sound meditation for your thyroid. I could have stayed all day listening to the stories behind everything he sold and I really valued a shopping experience where the shopkeeper was passionate about what he was selling.
Ilam and masala tea
You can’t stay in Nepal without falling in love with tea and we found a lovely welcoming shop, the Patan Tea Centre in Durbar square. After originally going in for tea for myself to take home, I left with a packet of Ilam tea (which is their most popular) and two gift bags filled with masala tea that the shop owner made specially for me.
They were made out of different fabric to the ones readily available and he happily offered to make new bags. You buy the tea by the gram so you can spend as little or as much as you like and enjoy a great tasting brew when you get back home.
Buy your own gifts with a difference
Back in the UK there are plenty of people selling unique gifts with a story.
Ensure that what you buy is ethical at www.ethicalconsumer.org
Shop at shop.malena.com for goods that tell a story and the ability to choose which country you’re supporting.
www.etsy.com has some amazing creative people selling their goods.
www.notonthehighstreet.com also has great gifts from small businesses.