I am a born and bred Singaporean who love travel and photography. Been to nearly 60 countries and all continents. Tends to go off beaten track, venture into villages and remote places. Love to interact with people. I go to Nepal with a very different perspective from most. I went there with a strong purpose. To capture the life of the local people. To witness how the Nepalese live strong despite the challenges from the aftermath of the earthquake.
I so enjoyed engaging with the local life such as drinking freshly made milk tea in Patan, Kathmandu. Have meal in the house of Gurung family in Dhampus. Witness the making of the rattan stools in the village of Khokana. Participating in the wedding of the locals, include dancing:)
Hope you enjoy reading my article as well as the photos of people i captured this trip.
Nepal is a country much known for Mount Everest, it’s majestic
mountain range, extreme sports and trekking. When I first thought of visiting this country was many years ago. But decided not to go then cause I am not into mountains or extreme sports. It does not help that most people who have been there told me the chaos, dust, noise of Kathmandu. Most importantly I will not like the food!
Came Dec 2015, I got to know a friend (Maya Ying) who open
and run her own guesthouse(Mingtang, or Maya Cottage) in Pokhara. Then I read how the country is trying to recover from the devastating earthquake. How tourism was badly affected and they are trying to get people to go back to Nepal. On top of that, they are suffering from fuel and gas crisis due to change of constitution and fights with India.
Perhaps is the radical side of me, with my growing skepticism about what media reports about. I always prefer to not do what most people do or think. When people tends to avoid the place due to media reports or what is happening. I tends to want to go and see for myself. I thought now will be an interesting time to visit the country. To see life after earthquake. Plus with less tourist, that sounds appealing My objective is very clear, venture off beaten track, engage local people and capture their spirit and life to the best I can.
I would say this is one of the best solo photography trip I embarked on my own thus far. The colours, the diversities in rituals and costume,
friendly local village people, the handicraft, the strong Hinduism practise in daily life. I was also very lucky to have coincided
with the annual Shivaratri Festival. What an experience although at times, scary, chaos, crowded, choking and unpleasant. Young people
experimenting and smoking marijuana, the colourful Sadhu and the faithful queuing for hours just to go inside the shrine for blessings.
One of the most colourful and fun encounters are the four weddings that I unwittingly gate crash:) they welcome me and I even join some
for dance:). One wedding blessing can last for half a day followed by
celebration for the rest of the day. Although I was not there for the hikes but the villages are only accessible by trekking and hikes. Lovely
trail walk through the villages surrounding the Maya lakes, Phewa lakes and Begnas lake near Pokhara.
Last but not least witness how the people live with the devastation of
earthquake and the fuel crisis. My local guide told me for initial two months they slept on the street as they repair their house. While many have their house completely destroyed and they build temporary shelter or they stay in the tent set up by Red Cross. But that did not stop the kids from turning the rubbles into their playground or the adults resting on the rocks.
Everyday I saw miles long queue of motor bikes, bus and cars at the petrol station. Waiting for their turns to get fuel. Most often it requires overnight wait. One most memorable encounter is witness the queue for cooking gas by the road. Locals have to bring their empty gas cylinder to exchange for full ones. Many walk miles from their village to reach this collection point. Mostly woman and they carry their cylinder on their back in a basket supported by their head.
You would expect to see anger, frustration, despair in the eyes or the face of the local people facing these man make and nature challenges in their life. What I have encountered is totally opposite. People are patient, friendly, hospitable, helpful, kind and most of all happy or contented. They live their life the best they could in the current circumstances. They make the best out of everything.
It has been a long time since I have written a travelogue. And I hope this travelogue allow you to have a different perspective about Nepal. Perhaps
even share it with friends who have been there or plan to go there or might be interested to go there after reading this. Is not for most people but it certainly left a deep impression with me. I can now understand why so many people go back to Nepal multiple times. Cause I will be one of them.