Tag Archives: Nepal

South Carolinas, Cuba and Coloumbia …

I’ve had a break from photography which is making me all the more excited about my upcoming opportunities. I’m heading to South Carolina for a holiday break but have decided a photo project is required to keep me going. Lying in the sun and shopping doesn’t do it for me anymore (although a little shopping won’t go amiss!) so I’m going to find a way to photograph holidaymakers in Myrtle Beach. Being Scottish is a great icebreaker as it puts people at ease … “Ah just lurve your accent” is a common response and I’m hoping I’ll have enthusiastic subjects!

My first visit to an American style resort many years ago was an eye-opener when I discovered “Resort Wear” was recomemend (by my colleagues), a whole new concept to me.  I stayed true to myself and really stuck in my (scruffy) shorts and teeshirts …  So this has got to be my theme: “A Retort to Resort”, “Loving Leisurewear” or maybe “Let’s Dig ’em Out Again” (as I do).

But what’s really thrilling me is SOUTH AMERICA is coming up!!!!!! A month of travelling with my camera in June and July. Planning the trip is making my mouth water as I firm up details that include time in Cuba and Colombia; visiting Havana and Trinidad with travel photographer Ralph Valesco, independent travelling in Colombia and then (fingers crossed) another Momenta Non-Proft Workshop in Medellin. I’ll try to blog in Spanish at some point – not quite yet though!

Meantime I’m continuing to process neglected images from previous trips. Good to keep my hand in …

Ubud, Bali, May 2014

Market Wall, Bali

Project South Africa 2013

Monkey Temple, Kathmandu

 

Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang, Laos

Shell Village, Laos

Shell Village, Laos

Passengers, Tatipani, Nepal

Passengers, Tatipani, Nepal

Pashupati Funeral Pyre, Kathmandu

Pashupati Funeral Pyre, Kathmandu

Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng, Laos

Vang Vieng, Laos

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia

Pashupatinath Temple

Visiting this temple in Kathmandu is not for the fainthearted. Sitting on the banks of the River Bagmati, close to Kathmandu airport, it is Nepal’s holiest Hindu temple. Tourists mingle with mourners, Sadhus (some “weekend” Sadhus and some the “real thing”) and exceedingly persistent hawkers of jewellery, marigolds, offerings and souvenirs. Funeral pyres are built along the river and the bereaved, some wailing and sobbing, some more sombre follow their deceased and pray while the bodies burn. It is extraordinarily intimate to watch yet the riverbank is filled with onlookers who are simply visiting as part of their holiday in Nepal.

Everyone takes photographs. At first it feels a little uncomfortable and certainly we are using longer lenses to put some distance between the cermonies and the camera, but after a while it becomes so compelling to watch that you almost forget these are funerals you are observing. I had a sense that the grandeur of the setting and the crowds watching add an element of drama for the mourners; it’s certainly very theatrical and so different from the restrained grief we’re used to seeing in the UK.

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Early morning in Kathmandu … before the madness!

We were staying in Thamel which is the main tourist centre of Kathmandu for a few days either side of travelling into the mountains. Trekkers, tourists, hikers and backpackers flock there making one of the busiest, bustling places I’ve visited. It’s an onslaught of sensory overload, with stallholders calling you, the constant sound of horns as vehicles squeeze past the rickshaws (whose drivers are demanding you take a ride) and the sound of music from the shops and cafes that line the streets. It’s a case of dicing with death as you manoeuvre yourself between the competing vehicles. Exciting but sometimes exhausting.

The city is colourful, dusty and in November, still hot. You can smell coffee, street food, exhaust fumes, flowers and other, less legal substances! You can buy almost anything in Thamel; from cashmere and baby yak hair scarves and shawls, every type of trekking gear, handmade paper, mandalas, paintings and all the ususal tourist tat. There are also beautiful ancient buildings, Buddhist and Hindu temples and stupas, markets and occasionally, if you step away from the chaos,  quiet squares where the noise mysteriously evaporates and meditation is possible.

This post considers the quiet hours before the madness starts. One morning I wandered about the area speaking to rickshaw drivers, garbage collectors and people setting up their stalls. It was cool and peaceful and so different! The rickshaw drivers look gloomy but they were actually very friendly and willing to be photographed although to be fair they also expected me to take a ride!

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Dasain Festival in Muktinath

1401789_10152092662412009_746293564_oReceiving a tika at the Muktinath Temple during the festival of Dasain was messy but felt good! There are many dieties worshipped in Nepal and festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Dasain occurs during November before the full moon and has many different aspects; particularly important are family get togethers and people travel from all parts of the world to be reunited with family and their community. The temple is beautiful, set on the hillside, many steep steps up from the town. The temple is important to both Buddhists, who call it Chumig Gyatsa (hundreds waters) and Hindus to whom it is the second most holy site in Nepal. It has a sense of peacefulness that belies its rugged setting and offers astounding views of the mountains.

There are hundreds of bells as you walk towards the temple which are rung by the Hindu worshippers as they pass by and momentos and photographs of loved ones pinned and placed around trees.  There are prayer wheels and a shrine to Lord Vishnu situated in the centre. As one of the holiest Hindu shrines in the world, the temple also features 108 spouts of icy water, gushing through the open mouths of bulls’ heads. Hindu pilgrims run beneath each spout to cleanse themselves before entering the shrine. We saw other rtituals but I have to confess I don’t know what we were watching – it was fascinating though. The people there were unfazed by visitors with cameras even as they performed their holy rites, but I chose not to enter the shrine itself, feeling that should remain a private moment.

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On the road to Kagbeni

Nepal - October-November 2013.

What a mad round of travel, catching up and having fun recently! It’s a great way to introduce my mind and body to the dark days of winter. So many people are affected by the dreariness of the short days and forbidding skies in the UK and a shot of crisp mountain air and sunshine was very refreshing.

I’m topping up the sunlight with a SAD lamp on my computer desk and look forward to some more travel to the sunshine later this month. Meantime I am aware I’ve been neglecting my images from Nepal. I am slowly working through them, recalling the glorious trip and experimenting with various treatments. Here is a selection of images from our journey from Marpha into Kagbeni. Located in the Lower Mustang area of Nepal at 2,750 metres, it is a fascinating village nestling in the valley of the Kali Gandaki river. It was a bumpy but picturesque ride in dusty jeeps, stopping off to enjoy the scenery and walk through small villages.

Nepal - October-November 2013.

Sakya Monastery, Kagbeni

Nepal - October-November 2013.

Prayer flags over the Kali Gandaki river, Kagbeni

Nepal - October-November 2013.

Chortens on hillside at Kagbeni

Nepal - October-November 2013.

Village in Lower Mustang

Nepal - October-November 2013.

View of the Annapurna peaks st sunrise

Nepal - October-November 2013.

Travelling between Marpha and Kagbeni we met students from Kathmandu who were exploring the area on a motorbike.

Bhaktapur …

Nepal - October-November 2013.Nepal is an astonishingly beautiful country to visit and a photographer’s paradise. Bhaktapur is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the name roughly translates as “City of Devotees”. A melange of pottery, rice growing, tourism, temples and ancient monuments, it was once the capital of Nepal. Newari art abounds and with patience and kindness the local people are open and friendly despite being wary of the snap and run tourists. The group I travelled with was led by Travel Photographer Ewen Bell; well travelled, knowledgeable and willing to share his expertise. He shared not only his love of travel photography with us but his delight in finding good coffee at high altitudes and the wonders of apple pancakes …!Collage 5 Collage1 Collage 4 Collage 3 Collage 2

 

 

 

Packing again …. off to Nepal!

My Nepal trip is imminent and I’m in my usual packing chaos! Lists and piles of stuff abound and I AM going to pack light this time … honest. It will be an exciting and challenging trip, ably led by Ewen Bell, a highly experienced and well travelled photographer who knows Nepal very well.  I love his travel images and can’t wait to learn from him.

On Sunday I’ll meet the others in Kathmandu, after stopping off overnight in Doha and for a short time in Bahrain. We spend a little time in Kathmandu and then travel via road and air (and feet) to Bhaktapur, Bandipur, Pokhara, Marpha, Kagbeni, Muktinath, Jomsom and back to Kathmandu. It will be a wonderful potpourri of hot days and cold nights (very chilly I understand!), low then high altitudes, tourist towns, mountains and temples … plus the enjoyment of meeting some of the Nepalese people – I really can’t wait!

Recently though I’ve been exploring closer to home. My photographer friend Steve McDonald and I drove to Northumberland, an area of astounding beauty. Early sunrises, castles in abundance and cosy pubs with generous dinners made it very special. A night at the gorgeous Lumley Castle Hotel was a little piece of luxury. A four-poster bed, a secret “Narnia” bathroom (yes, it was through the wardrobe!) and a glass of champagne was a fair reward for a 6am start on Bamburgh beach.

Low tide at Lindisfarne

Low tide at Lindisfarne

Lindisfarne from the beach

Lindisfarne from the beach

Lindisfarne castle

Lindisfarne castle

Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle

Duddo Stone Circle

Duddo Stone Circle

Bamburgh Castle at Sunrise

Bamburgh Castle at Sunrise

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle

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