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Travel Journal - Swayambhunath, Nepal

Published August 25th, 2012

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.



For more peep in to this link - http://bit.ly/PbMKFH

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Buddhist Prayer Flags

Buddhist Prayer Flags can be seen all over the place, inscribed with prayers and mantras dyed in five primary colors. A very interesting mix of colors.

  • August 4th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 24mm / f/6.3 / 1/1600 sec
2c311dd51dd97829b283ec0099f52f5c

Beggars

Hard Times for them and for us as well. Can't escape beggars in Asia, especially on tourist spots. They have a really interesting character and photogenic personalities.

  • August 4th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 70mm / f/2.8 / 1/800 sec
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Monkey atop the hill

It's also know as the Monkey Temple, so here's one I followed while he tried to hunt food and I got too close for comfort that he almost snatched the lens. Lesson learnt, never use wide angle lenses with monkeys. Though these monkeys are generally friendly types but dude, I don't have any food c'mon.

  • August 4th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 13mm / f/11 / 1/400 sec
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View of Kathmandu Valley from the hill

Here's a fab view of Kathmandu Valley after the hill climb towards Swayambhunath Stupa. The city can be seen from all sides once you reach on the top.

  • August 4th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 11mm / f/11 / 1/200 sec
48def32964fc68595523b4c438142e51

Young Couple

Keeping the romance alive by the grace of God. Temples seem to be the new dating hotspot I guess.

  • August 4th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 300mm / f/5.6 / 1/1250 sec
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Buddhist Prayer Wheels

Buddhist Prayer Wheels atop the hill just before the Swayambhunath Stupa. Most tourist just play with them as they look fancy.

  • August 4th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 24mm / f/2.8 / 1/1250 sec
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Swayambhu Stupa

Real deal people come for. Swayambhunath Stupa standing tall overlooking the Kathmandu Valley. One of the most sacred buddhist pilgrimage sites.

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Butter Lamps

Lamps filled with butter (ghee) symbolize the wisdom of the awakening mind. These butter lamps are one of the main offering in most Buddhist Temples.

  • August 4th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 70mm / f/2.8 / 1/1250 sec
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Mantras

Buddhist chants or prayers wrapped in yellow cloth.

  • August 4th, 2012
  • NIKON D90
  • 50mm / f/2.8 / 1/30 sec
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Old Age

Don't know anything about him but portraits of old people are fascinating. An interesting character once again.

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CasparLeuzinger
Awesome Account
Caspar Leuzinger  over 2 years ago
0
lovely, check my new story out! please ,)
DaniElms
Danielle Elms  almost 3 years ago
0
These are truly captivating shots! I especially love the shots of the people - you captured their spirit well!
vahanvaty
A Vahanvati  almost 3 years ago
0
appreciate ur visit Danielle. Thanks
pbehrends
Philip Behrends  almost 3 years ago
1
Amazing shots!! Really cool to see someone else's perspective on this location. I managed to snag a 'portrait' of one of those monkeys you chased with the camera. Cant wait to see more!
vahanvaty
A Vahanvati  almost 3 years ago
0
thanks Philip. you can check out my full post on my website, here i was limited to just 10 shots. http://bit.ly/PbMKFH