Saturday, March 16, 2013

Nepal, Days 1 and 2

The first full day I had in Nepal last year, I walked for miles and miles, over hours and hours. Just one year later and I am older, more tired, with more aching joints. I relaxed at my friends' house, then went to Phora (the American club) for a $12/45 minute massage (tough, I know), mani and pedi. I don't remember much of the day after that. Basanta the cook made a fabulous meal. After that I fell asleep.

The second full day we hung out at the house for a couple different reasons. Truth be told, I pinched a nerve in my left hip a few weeks before traveling. Just one week ago I was still in quite a bit of pain, and was hesitant to head off on a long walk in Nepal, especially after spending a couple of days in planes. There was a "bandh" today, or a strike against the government, so no vehicles were allowed on the road from 12 noon to 5 pm. If I went out for a walk toward Thamel and decided to taxi back, there would most likely be a traffic jam after the bandh was lifted. I did go for a small walk to a local park for some "fresh air" and saw the police stationed at the major intersections.

My friends have a gorgeous house with some interesting views of the neighborhood. Later in the afternoon I decided to finally get my camera gear out. I spent some time cleaning it, then went out on their rooftop patios to take some photos.

The neighborhood ranges from newer apartments to quite primitive farm plots. The "fresh air" statement above was actually meant to be sarcastic. Last year I remember waking up to the smell of incense burning in the morning breeze. This time around the odoriferous manure scents are even wafting in through the cracks between the closed windows. Lovely... Reminds me a little bit of Korea, the smell of diesel and... fertilizer, mingling together in the warm breezes.

The long-time project of road widening has begun in Kathmandu. It's not moving forward very quickly, though. In the meantime there are piles of bricks, rocks, dust, garbage and other detritus eroded away from past Nepali civilizations lining the road remnants, blowing into the air we breath with every gust of wind. I remember a number of people walking around with face masks this year. Mask usage is greatly increased this year. I'll need a mask if I plan to walk around much, or just plan on coming home with black lung disease, or worse.

It's good to be back, though. I like "different". Last year when I came to visit from Kansas, I thought to myself, "I can't get much further away from Kansas in every way possible than in Nepal." The obvious differences are in the style and color clothing, language, food, money, wild packs of dogs roaming the streets freely and barking all night, availability of CLEAN water, lack of flat roads, no apparent zoning for housing, plumbing, electrical wires. I could go on forever. OH! And there are mountains here. The country of Nepal is actually IN the Himalayan Mountains. I think we're at 4500 ft elevation right now, much different than Kansas, or even the DC area.

I have to say that the people here are very friendly, even more so than back in Kansas. Either that or they're afraid of me because I'm a foot taller than many of them? No. The people here really are very friendly. Maybe because they want me to spend money in their Thamel shops? Why the heck am I being so cynical?

Well, more later. I'll post some photos here from my rooftop photo shoot. Armed with my telephoto lens and no shyness about spying on the neighbors, I took a few pictures later in the evening. When you look at the photos, note the bright clothing, people covering their faces from the road dust, the farm behind my friends' house. I even enjoyed the sharp shadows cast by the setting sun.

You can see more photos from my online gallery by clicking through the photos, or click here to see all that I took on the rooftop on Day 2 in Kathmandu. Enjoy!











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1 comment:

  1. Amazing photo's so different and far removed from our world in the States...but so interesting :))