Photographer's Note

Kathmandu is like this wall painting: an outrageous riot of colours adorned with dying marigolds. Add to this a cacophony of sounds (honking traffic, temple bells, calls of rickshaw drivers…) and smells (incense, food, motorbike fumes…) and you are beginning to get the picture. Nowhere else I have ever experienced Asia at that level of intensity. Note the mouth full of cooked rice – this is not a graffiti but a shrine, one of many, in the city where a variety of religions permeate every aspect of life; and the rice is an offering.

Two trips to Nepal in the last two years and I’ve only posted four images from there so far (Gert has told me off for that more than once…).

When leaving Nepal in December 2014 I never thought I would be there again so relatively soon. It was just another destination on my long travel wish list. Four months later I was watching, with growing dispair and disbelief, the news of the devastating earthquake. My first reaction was a strong urge to go back straight away. But I had a new job and couldn’t afford any time off. Instead, I got in touch with the people I had met in Kathmandu Valley and tried to help, as much as possible, remotely. And I did book that flight back to Kathmandu - for February 2016.

That second trip was different. I travelled around the Kathmandu Valley with two of my Asian friends: Leki, who guided me across Bhutan in 2012 and Ramesh, who showed me around Nagarkot during my first trip to Nepal. Thanks to Ramesh, in 2016, I was able to reach some of the poorest and the most affected by the natural disaster. I met and stayed with several families who had lost their homes. To this day, many of them live in despicable conditions with no hope for improvement.

In spite of all that tragedy and hopelessness, Nepal has a lot to offer to a traveller. There are still enough temples, intact or restored, to quench the desire of even the most sophisticated culture vulture. The millennia old traditions have not changed. And… last but not least, they say about Nepal, that first time you go there for the mountains, but then come back for the people. The mountains are still there (albeit tarnished with the memories of the Everest Base Camp tragic deaths of April 2015) and the warm and welcoming Nepali people are there too, waiting for the tourists to come back to help boost the economy.

I’ll post images from both trips, marking the titles clearly with the year when they were taken so you can see for yourself and compare the pre and post-earthquake views.

Two photos of Kathmandu street life in WS.

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1390 W: 6 N: 2580] (14492)
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