Nepal Documentary | Living on a Dollar a Day

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Jan 07, 2016


Nepal Documentary | Living on a Dollar a Day
Nepal Documentary | Living on a Dollar a Day thumb Nepal Documentary | Living on a Dollar a Day thumb Nepal Documentary | Living on a Dollar a Day thumb


  • Nathan: We moved to Nepal from Canada in order to start a new life. Danica: we wanted to
  • live a more simple life and also to enjoy some adventure. Oh, oh you are strong! Nathan:
  • Nepal is sandwiched between Tibet and India. In the last valley before the Himalayas flatten
  • into the plains is Hetauda, our home and platform for this challenge. Danica: Hetauda being
  • a city, you can clearly see there is a contrast between those who have money and those who
  • are struggling. (Cow: Moooo) (Nepali spoken and laughing) Nathan: The average daily income
  • in Nepal is about 2 dollars. But 30% of the population live on less than 50 cents. (Laughing)
  • Danica: The people here are hardworking, but they are also very happy. And even children
  • are taught responsibility at a young age so they learn how to work hard. Nathan: Can we
  • live on less than a dollar a day and be happy with what we have got? We decided to accept
  • the challenge of living on less than a dollar a day for at least one month. We want to see
  • what it is like to be content on a dollar a day, not just to fight through a month of
  • brutal hardness that we don't enjoy, but to learn what things that we can work around.
  • If we crave something, what is the second best that we can still do on this budget.
  • Danica: We asked our friend Sudin to come down from Kathmandu, the capital city, and
  • help us with filming this documentary. He was brave enough to take the crazy Jeep ride
  • down through the mountains just in order to help us out. Nathan: He accepted the challenge
  • to live on a dollar a day along with us. Sudin: Although it is not a different country, even
  • a different city, I did not realize it was so different. Danica: All of the food that
  • we had in our house, all the toiletries, everything we put away for the duration of the challenge
  • in order to start fresh. You can think of 100 rupees as 1 American dollar or 100 cents.
  • Danica: So starting from day one we counted out all of our money, our budget for the whole
  • month, and we put it in a jar, and that was our budget, that was all we could spend for
  • this challenge. We are the ones that are going to embark on 32 days of living on a dollar
  • a day. Why 32 days? That is a very good question. Nepal does everything a bit different. Nepal
  • has its own calendar, the Nepali calendar, also known as: Nepali calendar. We are in
  • July, 2015, but in Nepal, we have jetted to the future to 2072. And Saun is the name of
  • the month. How is it? Saun. Saun. Saun begins on July 17th and ends on August 17th with
  • a total of 32 days. Two of my friends asked me to do it. That is a good enough reason,
  • right? (Laughing) I think it is good for me and its different. I have never done it, living
  • off of a dollar a day, and I think I will learn something from it. I am used to eating
  • things like honey, yogurt! Coffee, and Coke. I think I will miss them a lot. Self-control,
  • I think, because it is very easy to spend, you just see things and you grab them. That
  • is going to be difficult: self-control. Day 30. (Laughing) Danica: There is 32 days in
  • this month. Sudin: Okay, then day 32. I am loving it. For the first day of our challenge,
  • we are going to Bastipur, a small village outside of Hetauda. Sudin are going to bike
  • there, we are going to visit some friends who live there and experience how village
  • life is like in Nepal. We did spend 500 rupees on fuel, so we will see if we can make that
  • last for the whole month. That will be tricky. That is about 250 kilometers on the bike.
  • We usually do a little bit more than that in a month, so we have to be careful. Straight
  • from the tree to our mouths, we got fresh mangoes. The king of fruit, the jackfruit.
  • None of it cost a penny, just a little effort, a little prep, but well worth it. A bamboo
  • reed, a line, a chunk of styrofoam, a hook and a worm, and we are fishing. With a hooked
  • machete and a sack, we are crab fishing. Here, you eat them whole, shell and all. Needar:
  • Okay, just wait, wait! Good. We have one. Fighting, fighting, fighting. Okay, now he
  • cannot do anything. Look, like this. Soft, otherwise it will be hard. Okay! Okay. If
  • we throw it, this one is delicious. Nathan: After some fun in the river, we have the reward
  • of a bowl of 40 little crabs to fry and fill our bellies. Sudin and I just finished our
  • first day of the challenge in Bastipur. The simplicity of village life is that, you have
  • so much available for you in your own fields that you can pick and eat. So people here
  • may be monetarily poor, but they have enough food, and a very quiet, nice life. To stay
  • in budget means sometimes going without the motorbike and using the good old pedal bike.
  • But mine needs some repairs. Bicycle repair: 30 cents. What I am finding the biggest challenge
  • for this is dealing with my reactive hypoglycemia. It is a new thing that I am learning how to
  • deal with since we came to Nepal, although, I have probably had it for a long time. With
  • hypoglycemia and also with a really high metabolism, I have to eat within 3 hours, when I don't,
  • my mind becomes cloudy, I get irrational, and can't think straight. I have to figure
  • this out better. It is day 5 now. The open markets are where we get our fresh
  • produce. Having no real fixed prices, we have got to get used to the bartering system, so
  • at times you have got to fight for your fruit. Our bag: 5 kgs of roti (flour), which will
  • last us maybe half of the time. Even though daal-baat, or rice and lentils, is the most
  • common food eaten in Nepal, it is more budget friendly to have roti, Indian flat bread,
  • because it's 33 rupees per kilogram as oppose to 50 rupees per kilogram for the cheapest,
  • lowest grade rice you could possibly find. For our beverages, we have to keep it simple.
  • We have tea in the mornings, always with our breakfast, and sometimes we have it in our
  • afternoon. But either than that, we have to stick to water. Everything else for a dollar
  • a day is just too expensive. We learned that the flowers of the banana tree contains pockets
  • of sweet nectar, which makes for a tasty snack. I found these cute little packets in the shops.
  • Nathan: These are common. Danica: Yeah, I have seen these before. And a lot of people
  • use these actually. It's little packets, one use shampoo. Each are 2 rupees. We compared
  • the price difference between these and buying a bottle of shampoo from the supermarket,
  • which is what we usually do. Nathan: This will blow your mind. Usually, if you buy in
  • bulk it is cheaper, right? Well, and sometimes that is true here too, but in certain products
  • it also does cater to people who cannot afford to buy in bulk at one time, but can only buy
  • things in small quantities at a time. These are 7 mL each, they are each 2 rupees. So,
  • here we have the same product. This is 650 mL, so 93 of these little packages will fill
  • this, and they're each 2 rupees. So 93 of them would cost 186 rupees. Well, this bottle
  • costs 400 rupees. Danica: It is the same product. Nathan: It is the exact same product. But
  • this is crazy. You are paying over double the price just to have it in a squirt bottle.
  • Danica: The only downside about these things, I would say, is that it is more litter, it
  • is more garbage. So, you are using one, and then you are throwing it away. So that is
  • contributing to more of the problem with garbage disposal and pollution. You would think that
  • on a dollar a day, that we have to stick to cooking ourselves. In many parts of Asia,
  • though, eating food out can be surprisingly inexpensive. Here are examples of meals out
  • that are less than 30 cents a person. Aloo parotha. Veg pakhora. Aloo chop. And one of
  • our favorite street food snacks: chaat pate. Served up on someone's leftover homework.
  • Milk popsicles for 10 cents a pop. Samosa. Finding clean water is always a struggle here. You have
  • just got to get to know the spots that are safe. Trial and error is not always pretty.
  • It is day 11, and we have got a hankering for meat. So, we went out into the market
  • and got the cheapest possible meat we could find, which is supposed to be intestine. Basically,
  • we got stomach. But it is water buffalo stomach, and it goes for about a dollar for a kilogram.
  • So, we are going to try to make a meal out of it. What long intestines you have! This
  • is huge. Okay, that is all I will have for now. This is my first taste. I am a little
  • nervous. I hope it is good. I will get a little piece of the...of everything in there. It
  • is okay. It is okay. I was worried it was going to be too chewy or something. But it
  • is alright. Mmmm. That is a shout-out to Mark Weins at migrationology.com. Funny guy. It
  • is good, let us have some. Hey, it is day 13, I got a cold. I feel miserable. I am by
  • myself right now. It is raining outside, gives the whole mood of...of evil and pain. On day
  • 11, we got the intestines and stomach, which is the cheapest meat you can get here. There
  • is some comments on Instagram, because we had taken a snapshot of our food list. And
  • it said "intestine/stomach." ...wondering, well, is that medicine that you need for your
  • intestines/stomach. But, no, no, that is what we bought to eat. And, it was delicious. So
  • that answers that question. Another thing we are learning is how to go without a refrigerator.
  • So, like, getting milk or meat is a pain, because you have to get it on the same day.
  • A big challenge of this, though, is craving certain foods that we just cannot get here.
  • I am craving chicken nuggets. Anything McDonald's I would be happy to eat. Although we both
  • got sick for about a week, we eventually recovered. This is my first day out of the house for
  • 4 days. And the problem with being sick at home on a budget, is that you are craving
  • good food, but you can't go into the kitchen and stick nachos in the microwave or pre-packaged
  • food. Everything that is on budget, you have to prepare yourself, and if you are sick,
  • you do not want to prepare it. So, this is the first time out. We are using the rest
  • of the entire day's budget on dinner tonight. We are going crazy on street mo:mo: and some
  • fried street food. The good thing is that the last few days, we have got ahead on budget,
  • so we can use a full 100 rupees, basically like a full dollar on this meal now. So, for
  • us, this is going to be a real treat, and we are really looking forward to it. These
  • delicious looking little lumps of goodness are called mo:mo:. Very, very popular, in
  • fact, probably the most popular street food here in Nepal. Tibetan steamed dumplings.
  • These plates are packed leaves. And after you finish...it is very environmentally friendly.
  • For less than a dollar each, we got a plate of mo:mo:s, some hot dogs, and some mystery
  • meat. Danica: I don't want to know what that is.
  • How do people manage to have electronics on a tight budget? We went to a local electronics
  • repair shop to learn a lesson or two. Raju and Sagar are a father and son team. We learned
  • a valuable lesson from Raju and Sagar: maintenance keeps costs down. So let's put this pudding
  • to the proof. Ah, sink is clogged. Sometimes, a man needs to do disgusting things. That
  • is so nasty. (gagging) Spick and span! Here, a haircut, head massage, and friendly service
  • all goes for 50 cents. However great a deal a haircut may be, it is still half a day's
  • budget. So we resort to the home job. We have been doing it this way for a long time though.
  • Loving every minute of it. Danica: I don't actually know what I am doing. I am not really
  • a hair dresser. For more than five years, I have been cutting Nathan's hair, because
  • it is free, and I guess he doesn't mind bad haircuts. Just cutting. This is my little
  • friend, Monita's house. There is two small rooms, and 10 people live together in this
  • home. In this home, there are only three beds, so everyone else has to sleep on the floor.
  • One thing that helps the family keep costs down, is they cook their meals outside on
  • this mud stove, and they use wood instead of gas. Although only being 14 years old,
  • she is a hard little worker. She goes to a nearby tap to collect water for the family
  • each day. They work on the land surround their house. There is rice fields where they can
  • collect crab and snails. And Monita's father also works at a small little pond where they
  • hatch fish, so they get to eat fish nearly every day. We brought our catch home to fry
  • it up. Nathan: I think you should put salt in there. It was harder to get the meat out
  • than we thought. It is too much work just to get a tiny little piece of meat. A few
  • days later, for round 2 of crab and snails, Monita and her brother showed up at our house
  • with a big batch to show us how to cook it. It tasted a lot better the second time! (slurping)
  • ...inhale it. He needed a nap after all that hard work.
  • For many around the world, entertainment takes a major chunk from the pocketbook. On a dollar
  • a day, we make sure that our fun is free. Men here usually only swim with other men
  • around because they're usually in their underwear...or less. Many places in the world, football or
  • soccer is a very common sport, a favorite sport of many because usually all you need
  • is to maintain one soccer ball, and many people can play, although cricket is also quite popular
  • too. A lot of times during the hot season, it's too hot to play outside, so we end up
  • spending a lot more time indoors. Karom board is one of those great indoor games. Oh yeah,
  • oh yeah, I'm going for the other one. So it's day 31: one day left. Yesterday we moved into
  • our new house, we are on the roof of our new house right now. And today is a bhanda, nationwide
  • bhanda where the highways are closed, everything is closed. Then we found out tomorrow is also
  • a closure, meaning the roads won't open at all today, but our friends that we are meeting
  • in the national park, they said, "Well, foreigners can travel on the roads during the closure."
  • Well we did not know that. So we got our stuff ready as quickly as we could, but once we
  • had headed out on the road, it had already started crazy raining, like CRAZY raining.
  • Monsoon rain came down, the roads were washed out, and we just...we came back. We will sleep
  • here tonight and we will go early to the national park tomorrow. Hopefully it is not raining
  • then. Got to change the plans, got to go with the weather. We managed to get a free stay
  • at a hotel including meals in exchange for doing a review, and we got to do some awesome
  • activities. A great reward for our efforts. We got to get right up close with the elephants
  • and pet them and follow them out into the jungle with their trainers where they go out
  • to haul in lumber, and also where they go to do jungle safaris. After that, we went
  • down to the river for bathing the elephants, one of the funnest activities that we got
  • to do. This is part of the elephant's daily routine: their trainer takes them down to
  • the river for a bath, and it's actually quite enjoyable for them, so that was fun to be
  • part of that. It was a really nice way to end the final day of our challenge. We have
  • successfully finished our 32 days of living on a dollar a day. We have learned how important
  • it is to keep a budget, and how knowing where our money is going keeps us spending our money
  • smart. How did you find this place? We are in the middle of the jungle. It was Trip Advisor.
  • Trip Advisor? (laughing) Bringing this documentary right to you is us, Danica, Nathan, and Sudin.
  • That's a lot better. If you could be a tree, what tree would you be? A pine, a sequoia,
  • a redwood, a cedar? A tulip tree? Ahh, I just kicked the tripod. You kicked the tripod.
  • No I did. A tripod tree. You have an incoming call... And the Nepali calendar starts on
  • different days of the month as opposed to the Gregorian calendar. Will we come back
  • safe? Who knows? Will we die? Who knows? Will Sudin die? We hope not. Uhh...the... Sorry.
  • Hee hee. We are just here to live on a dollar a day, we are not here to solve plastic issues.
  • Yeah, that is for the next documentary. Another Day, Another Dollar. Dolla'. Dollar.

Download subtitle


Our full living on a dollar a day in Nepal documentary. Check out our story and exact breakdown of our expenses: http://thetickettotravel.com/living-on-a-dollar-a-day-2.

Thanks to Sudin KC for all his photography and videography work on this documentary! If you want more of Sudin's work, follow him on https://www.facebook.com/sudinkcofficial.

Subscribe to our channel and email subscribe on our website http://thetickettotravel.com to keep close tabs on what's going on.

We filmed from July 17th-August 17th, 2015.

Another Day, Another Dollar documentary was intended not as much as a look into life on a dollar a day, as much as a showcase on how to be content on less, and how life is like for us and others in Nepal.

The documentary was originally divided in 4 parts, uploaded in November 2015, with a total time of about 45 minutes.

The Rules
So we came from the angle of already living here, not starting fresh. Locals living on very little already have a home, basic resources, maybe a bicycle or a motorbike for the family.

Before we embarked on this challenge, we had to set some ground rules, and we will make things as transparent as possible for you.

First up, keep in mind this does not include our visa costs, internet, or rent. Our visa is an expense locals don’t have but we need to pay as foreigners. And we were forced to get Internet ever since YouTube started refusing the submission of VHS tapes for video uploads. Not impressed, YouTube.

Secondly, we chose a high exchange rate to use for the Nepali rupee against the American dollar, so we will be working with 107rps each/day as an average, although for simplicities sake, you can think of 100 rupees as one dollar or 100 cents. We will do it for a whole month with no breaks, meaning our budget as a couple is $60 for the month, or 6420 rps.

This is around 20% less than one person earning minimum wage would make. Over 30 per cent of Nepalese live on less than US$14 per person, per month, according to the national living standards survey conducted in 2010-2011.The average daily income in Nepal is closer to $2 a day. Having said that, if we were to spend the average income during this challenge, we would have no problem paying for our rent as well. Keep in mind, though, many local families already own the family home and don’t have to pay rent.

Our living on a dollar is not only our food. No, that would be too easy. It includes cosmetics, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, vehicle repairs, and any medicine we might need. We are also using cooking gas, which costs about 8cents a day. Many people especially in the rurals don’t use cooking gas, but use wood fires instead for cooking, which if we were to do also would make it a lot easier to keep in budget. But easy is for losers. Just kidding… Since the documentary, we have been forced to cook on wood, and it is not “easy,” but time consuming. It does save about $4/month doing it that way though. But I’d rather pay for the gas in most cases.

To make it easier to calculate our expenses, we put away lots of our stuff that we bought already to start fresh for the month and not get confused or tempted into using something we already bought before.

As we considered what we need to spend on non-food items, we came to realize that this was more of a challenge than anticipated. Blah.

Our Budget
Not only did we stay in budget, but in 30 days we spent an average of $0.85 per day. As we were going according to the Nepali calendar of 32 days for that month of Saun, though, the money we saved allowed us to treat ourselves to a trip and nice meal for the last 2 days when we went to Sauraha, and Chitwan National Park.

We thank everybody for their support in making this documentary and helping us get things going as “YouTubers” or “travel vloggers!”

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