I've just arrived back in the States, got a hot shower, and settled in for the afternoon to enjoy some football, so I thought I would take the time to clean up a few images that I have had in the catalog and haven't shared yet and also put down some thoughts from my time in Nepal. (edit: I wrote this yesterday, but fell asleep in the chair before finishing it so I'm posting it now)
The Nepali people are amazing. I just don't know how else to say it. My last day in Kathmandu, before I left for Bhaktapur, I walked to a monastery at the top of a hill, north of my guesthouse. I thought I would just go check it out and come back, before meeting up with someone on the other side of town, but I had a slight change of plans. I met a family, a dad and 5 kids, that were hanging out at the monastery. The father didn't speak any English at all, but his kids spoke it very well. We finished a very surface level conversation and then I wandered away to find a bench to rest, and jot down some thoughts. The father and son followed me around the monastery to the back where I was sitting to ask me back to their house for tea. I had told them I was alone in Nepal and they wanted me to feel welcomed. In fact, I could tell that the father had intentionally brought his son to translate for him so he could welcome me into his home. I was really taken aback.
That experience changed my perspective for the rest of the trip. From that point on, I was quick to trust. To be honest, I did little photographing after Kathmandu. I was just too busy enjoying the people around me (and feeling sick too I guess). Everyday, it felt like I met someone new. I had Dhal Bhat for dinner in Krishna's home in Bhaktapur. I went to a temple with Laksman and his brother and then grabbed some chowmein. I had a beer with Yam and Fani in Pokhara, and then proceeded to do the first day of a 7 day trek that Yam was leading with Isabel and Nico from Switzerland the next day. I jumped on public buses with people (and goats), having absolutely no clue where I was going. I got to try my hand at making clay pots on a potters wheel in the middle of the square in Bhaktapur, because I met a kid in a back alley who worked there and struck up a conversation. I sat at a temple in Bhaktapur and just goofed off with little kids for an afternoon. These (and many more) are all experiences that I could spend 5000 words on, but I want to leave it at that for now. Simply put, the Nepali people are incredible.
I realized when I got back to Kathmandu just how much of myself I invested in that place through the photographs I made there. After another long, bumpy, but slightly less cramped van ride back across Nepal, I got dropped off at the entrance to the Boudha Stupa, and it felt a little bit like coming home. There is no doubt about it: it's a special place. The rhythm of life around the stupa is captivating. I left the camera in my room that night, because I wasn't feeling it. I just wanted to sit, to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the place. Maybe I was tired from the bus ride (riding across this country counts as physical activity, as half the time you're hanging on for dear life), but I think I was just satisfied with the way I have depicted life around the stupa, and I just wanted to enjoy the beauty of the place.
In a couple weeks, I have some big news coming. This trip has just reinforced everything I have been thinking about. Enjoy some images from the last few days, and some of the faces that made this trip special.
Ok, PS- I have to tell this story, it's just too good. I was riding the bus from Pokhara to the start of the trek in Begnas yesterday, when about halfway there, a guy gets on the bus with 4 goats. I'm not kidding.The goats walked up and down the aisle in the bus going "baaaaahhhhhh" for like a half hour and pestering the school girls I was sitting near. I think one even ate a girl's flip flop. And then they pooped and left. LOL. I only wish my camera wasn't in my bag on the roof so I could have captured the experience.
PPS- I was informed that it's not normal to bring the goats inside the bus. They are supposed to go on the roof with the rest of the luggage. I also saw that happen.
PPPS- Always take the same public transportation locals do when you can.