Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking

Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking

Book One in The Adventures of Zelda Richardson series


Overworked computer programmer Zelda Richardson is teetering on the edge of burnout.

Inspired by a girlfriend’s trip around the world, she sublets her apartment in Seattle, Washington, buys a backpack and flies to Kathmandu as a volunteer English teacher – determined to make a difference and find herself whilst doing it.

She can’t wait to immerse herself in Nepalese life – wear a Sari, eat with her right hand and wipe with her left – but becomes overwhelmed by its foreignness. Despite the power outages, lack of running water and difficulty in learning the language, she sticks it out, wanting to prove to her friends and family – but mainly to herself – that she can survive without the luxuries of home.

One distraction is the charming Ian, the sexy Australian backpacker whom she gets to know on arriving in Nepal. When her students laugh her out of the classroom and the headmaster publicly humiliates her, Zelda flees to the tourist district of Thamel to drown her sorrows with Ian.

What follows is every traveler’s nightmare as they find themselves entangled with an international gang of smugglers whose Thai leader believes Ian and Zelda have stolen their diamonds.

Can Zelda find a way to get the smugglers off their backs and her Nepalese students to respect her, before her time in Kathmandu is over?

Pick it the paperback or eBook from Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, or your favorite retailer.

My novels are also for sale at several Dutch bookstores and gift shops: Caffe il Momento, Boekhandel Vrolijk, Athenaeum Boekhandel, The American Book Center, Reisboekhandel Pied a Terre, and the De Amsterdamse Boekhandel.

Down and Out in Kathmandu: Adventures in Backpacking (Adventures of Zelda Richardson, #1)

PAPERBACK and KINDLE EDITIONS: ISBN-13: 978-1519365903; ISBN-10: 151936590X
SMASHWORDS EDITION: ISBN-13: 9781311465245
KEYWORDS: adventure, thriller, backpacker fiction, travel fiction, international crime, crime fiction, mystery, suspense, heist, smuggling, volunteer, Nepal, Thailand


Read what others are saying about Down and Out in Kathmandu:

Down and Out in Kathmandu paperback

5 stars: “Down and Out is an engrossing and thrilling travel mystery that was hard to put down… Alderson’s descriptions of Nepal and Bangkok were very realistic and gave readers a glimpse of the dangerously illegal and dark side that exists in these countries. This book is fun and entertaining, but also reminds us of how dangerous it can be to travel alone and how easy it is to be taken advantage of…

What I most enjoyed and appreciated about this book was Alderson’s excellent knack for storytelling and using characters who weren’t very sophisticated when it came to traveling, but were still likeable, in their individual ways. I look forward to more travel mysteries from this worldly author, and highly recommend Down and Out, as it includes a little bit of everything readers love in good books.” – author Jill Dobbe


“A book I’d like to mention to any readers thirsting for some armchair adventure.” – Beth Green of The Displaced Nation


4 stars: “I would love to travel but unfortunately I do not have the money for it. That is one of the reasons why I love to read, it’s my way to travel. This week I went to Kathmandu for 3 months to volunteer at a Nepalese school, I’ve met an Australian guy and escaped the wrath of a diamond smuggler. Quite an eventful trip but I loved it!”- Goodreads Giveaway winner


Down and Out in Kathmandu is listed on the amazing travel fiction website and Tripfiction’s Pinterest board: Books for Backpacking Adventures.


5 stars: “This story has a great female lead and an exotic setting. Jennifer Alderson created an interesting character, Zelda Richardson. We all can relate to her in our own lives. Zelda gets in over her head by volunteering to teach English in Nepal. She is idealistic, courageous, and down to earth. She tries to make the best out of the situation, gets frustrated and grows along the way. I was completely immersed in the country of Nepal. The images were vividly concocted in my mind… I was so swept up in the novel that I want to read Zelda’s continuing adventures in the next book… I learned a lot and would like to visit Nepal someday. I recommend reading this title.” – TripFiction member review


I’m thrilled and honored to be the author of one of three books that celebrate strong international women, featured in this Mother’s Day article on The Displaced Nation.

Down and Out in Kathmandu is also listed on the University of Amsterdam’s Alumni website.


5 stars: “Zelda Richardson ditches her secure computer-programming job in Seattle and heads to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, to work as a volunteer English teacher, in what turns out to be an undisciplined, free-for-all classroom. Nevertheless, this somewhat naïve but gutsy young woman is determined not to allow this country and its 25-plus million people get the better of her, even as her preconceived romanticized notions are quickly squelched. However, it’s not only the country she collides with, but also, the charming Australian trekker who ends up more fixed on drugs and alcohol than scaling the Nepalese peaks.

Alderson’s portrayal allows the reader to view the underbelly of the city, with all its smells and sounds, its chaos and pathos. In fact, Kathmandu becomes its own character and leaves the reader to decide if it’s an antagonist or protagonist.

This is a well-researched (on site experience) and entertaining read for both armchair travelers and trekkers.” – author Pamela Allegretto


5 stars: “Down and Out Kathmandu includes adventurous tall tales of the virgin backpacker. Along the way, the protagonist meets Ian the seductive Australian, and Tommy the twit. Nepal and Thailand are the highlighted countries where the author divulges cultural content and life lessons from her experiences. Nothing is as she expects…which is why traveling is so awesome, always full of surprises, especially when it’s done blindly.

An excellent novel full of travel stories for the new or current backpacker. Anyone who has backpacked, thrown themselves naively into another culture, will be able to relate to this, and should read it. The story events become more extreme bordering between non-fiction and fiction, but that’s all part of the fun and imagination!” – travel author Kait Fennell


4 stars: “Three strong characters appear in this novel, Zelda, Ian and Tommy. How their paths cross is part of the storyline’s progression and the reader is kept guessing until the end.

The locale is certainly hot and steamy and successfully brings to life the trip Zelda undertakes in the company of her guide, Khamel, to, for example, Swayambhunath Monkey Temple – this outing is well rendered (the temple was sadly damaged in the Nepal Earthquake of 25 April, 2015). Kathmandu really doesn’t come across as an easy place. Money is the main language and Zelda finds herself preoccupied with the dirt and squalor…

A good book to take to Kathmandu because it does convey the venal, buzzy feel of the city.”- TripFiction’s review


4 stars: “Funny account of a westerner’s first backpackers trip abroad. As a fellow traveler, many of the scenes were very recognizable, sometimes painfully so! Good dose of intrigue as well.” – iBooks customer


5 stars: “The book captured my interest from the first chapter and maintained to the end. I enjoyed how the characters were developed. Will definitely read the authors next book!” – Amazon customer
5 stars: “Liked it a lot! Well-driven plot, funny observations and easy to relate to. I would like to read her next book for sure.” – Amazon.DE customer