Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nepal Day 3, Part 1: Walking in Kathmandu

I took hundreds of photos yesterday, and processed a big batch of them for my Flickr album. I'll post some of the photos here. You can view more by clicking on the photos in this post, and can view the entire set of photos from Day 3 in Nepal here.

Yesterday was my third full day in Nepal, and I finally put on my hiking shoes and set out for a long walk in Kathmandu. There is not a flat surface here, and with all of the road construction and street garbage, good hiking shoes are a plus when walking around town. My simple plan yesterday was to walk down to Thamel, change money and then catch a cab back to my friends' house.

I packed my camera gear with my tripod strapped onto my camera pack, borrowed some Nepali rupees from my friend (as I hadn't yet changed over my USD), and set out for the day. It's been a year since my last visit, and yet the roads are still familiar to me. I took a map with me, but didn't need it. Without street names on most of the streets, the map isn't much help, anyway.

At 5' 10", blond hair and a pack on my back, boy do I stick out in Nepal! Old ladies (most at least a foot and a half shorter than me) looked up with their time and sun wrinkled faces with a toothy grin. Hands together and a short nod from me, "Namaste." And they returned the greeting with a bigger smile. As I passed their shops, man of them men just sat there and stared at me as I passed. I didn't feel as comfortable to greet them, their faces not usually as open and welcoming as the women's were. The children walking on their way to school would look up at me as we passed each other. About half of the time they would say, "Hi!" "Hello!", and maybe even giggle a little. I packed a bunch of Dum Dum lollipops in my camera bag and pulled a few out for the smallest children who were sitting at the side of the street with their mothers. Taking candy from a stranger (and who was stranger than me that day?) apparently isn't a problem with children in Kathmandu.

With the population of Kathmandu growing exponentially, there is a great deal of construction taking place in the city. Roads are being widened, new houses and apartments are being built. The pace of construction is quite slow, and the methods are very different from ours back in the USA. I watched people literally break up bedrock with pick axes, place hand made bricks (from factories east of the city) into place, pour and move cement with the most basic shovels and tools. I have to wonder how these structures would hold up to the earthquakes that happen on a regular basis in the Kathmandu Valley.
Road Widening Project

There are packs of wild dogs roaming the entire city. Usually sleeping on the streets in the day, they are up, roaming around and barking ALL NIGHT. And I mean all night. No matter how needy the dogs appear, or how cute the puppies are when nipping at your heels, you must remember to not touch the mangy, disease ridden mutts. I have yet to see a cat roaming the streets here.

Behind these brick walls, and the street dog guarding the door, is a Montessori based school for children...

Religion is everywhere on the streets of Kathmandu, and I mean everywhere. Signs of the Hindu religion and Buddhist beliefs are found on the street corners, such as this shrine (first pic is an HDR image)...


As soon as the sun comes up over the horizon, I can hear worshipers ringing bells. Walking past the temples I could smell the burning incense. This lady pictured here was with her mother at the temple. Her mother motioned for me to enter the area and take pictures while her daughter was performing her worship. So warm, welcoming and open to sharing their religion! With my camera in hand, my shyness tucked away, I spent some time with them, documenting their morning ritual. After I was done I gave them one of my business cards with my Flickr address, so they could view the pictures. I don't even know if they understood what I was trying tell them, if they will ever check the website.

Even sadhus (?) need to read the morning news. Can you see the license plate on the motorcycle behind him? The license plates here are hand painted. Fascinating.

"Project Directorate, Department of Roads" This old, semi-boarded up building is still in use, the road projects are still moving along...

Old gates to the French Embassy. Yes, those are big piles of garbage in front of the gates. There are piles of garbage everywhere, on every street. These gates aren't in use now, but the French Embassy is still back there, somewhere.

People-spotting on my walk...




This last photo brings me to Mike's Breakfast, THE place to get a peaceful breakfast after a dusty trek through the streets of Kathmandu. I will pick up my next blog post here. The staff is amazing, was very friendly and helpful as I ate and then took photos on the premises. I was there before the rush hour, and was able to play with some HDR and IR photography. The staff was interested in what I was doing, and I had time to explain it all to them, the filters, different exposures. They ended up giving me the "friend discount" for breakfast. I look forward to going back there again soon.

Well, I hope you're enjoying my posts and photos. I sure am enjoying Nepal, again! Next post: Mike's Breakfast, the tornado that almost hit me (not kidding), Garden of Dreams.

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