Travel Journal - Nepal Day 1

Any sort of travel away from our regular thing would hopefully remove the mind-block and may inspire us to do the usual things maybe better or try something totally new. The way we see things may change after what our eyes see from the different places and people. After a frustrating few months at work and thinking of many different places and travel plans going haywire, I somehow got to Nepal. I m glad I have landed here of all the places I have been thinking of. My eyes have been thirsty for rain and green landscape and the views I got to see just left me speechless. Before the trip there were even more confusions, what gear to carry, what clothes to pack. Choices to make, to get rid of stuff and go as light as possible. Really confusing as sometimes the lens that you left behind happens to be the one you needed. After packing and repacking I carried 2 bodies and 5 lenses and used every single piece of equipment I carried. This just makes it more easy to pack the gear-bag for the next trip coming right after this one.

Arrival in Nepal was pretty laid-back, regular flight and airport stuff, hotel checkin and just hangin' around and getting used to the climate and preparing plans for the next day. As you get out the airport there is an army of taxi drivers who just want to pull your luggage and take you to your hotel at an overpriced fare. You are better off booking with the hotel for a pickup. While on the way its chaos, cars and bikes running at centimeter distance, honking every single second, pedestrians overflowing on the streets, pollution forming clouds of smoke and the pavement scattered with the smell of rotting garbage all along the narrow streets. And even after reaching there I had no idea of what I will be starting off with.

Found a tour operator from the hotel and most of the trip plans were organized, from asking about places to go and transport. A typical enthusiastic and weird smiling guy. It was a good experience dealing with him and most things were arranged and sorted out without any issues. So the next 2 days were going to be visit to temples, this place is crowded with an awful number of buddhist and hindu places. The write up with all the images in one post would be too long for anyone to hang on till the end so even though I started with the intent of making it a single post, I changed my mind and made it for different days and different stories.

I have always been a casual traveller till now. So far in all my trips I have been photographing the regular stuff. By regular, I mean the general first time tourist type of photography. When I look back at what I have documented so far in my previous trips it just looks and feels pointless, pictures with no story, no emotion but just plain bland images that lack strong features or characteristics and therefore uninteresting. Never captured the people of all those places that actually make any place that it is. I m generally uncomfortable with people and cannot approach strangers. Even for this trip my actual plan was to capture the amazing landscape this beautiful country has to give and quench my long thirst for a proper rain. But Nepal turned out to be a street photography heaven and landscape & architecture became sort of an ignored genre. Still good enough of it in the card to show the places visited.

DAY 1 LOCATION 1 / SWAYAMBHUNATH STUPA

Day 1 starts with Swayambhunath in Khatmandu, also know as Monkey Temple, one of the sort of biggie Buddhist pilgrimage site. Lot of people flocking in, tourists, tour guides, street vendors, beggars, local people and monkeys. This large amount of people is just an amazing opportunity for candid street photography. I haven't really done any great street photography and street portraits so my decision was to get more of the people around. It did not take long to warm up and get in the grove. People are very friendly and most of them don't object with their photo taken though I did piss off a monkey by running after him. I m in paradise, relieved about the fact that I can just walk around pointing my camera to anyone and everyone. I had put the ultra wide lens to rest and popped in the mid-range zoom, the neck breaking 24-70 2.8. A pain to carry and a pleasure to use. This is just the starting but when I ended the trip and reviewed the images back home, this was the lens that I used for 80% of my images. Keep scrolling through some of my favorite images from this spot till I head off to Day 1 Location 2.

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DAY 1 LOCATION 2 / PATAN DURBAR SQUARE
After exploring Swayambhunath Temple for 3-4 hours, headed to Patan Durbar Square in Lalitpur Dist of Khatmandu. Its listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. I was not aware of this fact until I read it in wikipedia. I wish I could have taken a helicopter shot of the whole durbar square, but thats asking for too much from a tight budget. This area does look very ancient and full of temples and interesting architecture. Being a tourist place along with local people staying in the area, this is another opportunity for more people images. Some architecture shots and lot of people images once again. The story continues with the pictures below.

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DAY 1 LOCATION 3 / PASHUPATHINATH TEMPLE, BAGMATI RIVER

From Patan we head straight to Pashupatinath Temple. One more from UNESCO World Heritage Sites located on the banks of Bagmati River. This is a lot of temples for me to digest in a day but I was not bothered about the religion thingy happening there anyway. More people, lot of 'babas' with different names, this baba and that baba but for me everyone was the same - i called them 'money babas' for one simple reason that as soon as they see you approaching with a camera you hear them yell 'No Money, No Photo'. Have to buzz-off a bit away from those jerks and there is a thing in the bag called 70-300 and you people are still gonna be shot. Though I ignored most of those baba anyway. As you pass along and get closer to the river bank there is a line of hindu cremation ceremonies going on. Thats a lot of burning dead bodies to see on a regular day and its a bit of uncomfortable feeling. There is a line of tourists and locals looking over those ceremonies from the other side of the river.

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DAY 1 LOCATION 4

 

As per the plan the next location was Boudhanath. But while on the way to this spot we encounter one regular thing in Nepal, 'Bandh' or protest or strike - the political bullshit, roads are closed and nobody is allowed to go through, except the residents of the area. Though they don't trouble the tourist vehicles, just politely asked to leave and come later. So following the bandh we have to return back to base and add Boudhanath for Day 2. The driver drops us to Khatmandu Durbar Square which looks almost same as Patan Durbar Square. From here its game, try to figure out your way back to the hotel from those narrow lanes of Thamel. That in itself was an adventure. My legs and shoulders already giving up on me walking from morning to evening with only breakfast. Desperate for food and a bit of rest and review the images shot during the day. Took another hour to find a way back. People sleep so early here, or maybe I sleep too late. I roam around the hotel hunting for WiFi as my room doesn't catch the signal and the only other soul moving around was the watchman who took occassional naps and kept checking and wondering if I am ever going to sleep. I guess he was fed up of me sitting outside that he came to me and said, Sir its 1 am.

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One disappointment, no rain. Just pissed a bit in the evening and went away. But its just the first day so hoping I get my rain and moisten my senses.

 

Did anyone seriously make it till the end. Should be some workout for your fingers to go through the whole post and pictures. Thanks for scrolling till the end. Cheers and stay tuned for more days.