Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nepal Landscape

This is the plane that brought us to Jomsom, a mountain town in the Annapurna Conservation area.  The planes travel between Pokhara and Jomsom.  Pokhara airport has problems with morning fog and Jomsom has winds too high by noon for flights.  So there is a short window most days for air travel and some days you are unable to fly.  It is only a 20 minute flight between the Pokhara and Jomsom but it is a two day bus ride. 

After landing in Jomsom we walked 10 kilometers to Marpha. 

Most of the mountain towns were built jut outside the flood plains.  The best soil is just outside of the river bed.  The Nepali people have worked to improve the soil.  Every year they collect the manure from the animals and work it into the fields.

Early morning reflections in the river gravel ponds.

The local people carve prayers into local stones.

Animals are a found in the fields and in town.  Always good to look where you are walking.

Jomsom has the Kali Gandaki River running through the middle of town.  There is no road bridge across this river.  We rode a bus to one side of town, walked across the bridge, and got on another bus to continue our journey to Kagbeni.

The fields and town of Kagbeni  run along the river. This historic trading center straddles the old border between the Mustang Kingdom and Nepal.  

Kagbeni has lots of narrow passageways.

There are a few tractors in the mountains but they aren't used to work the fields.  Tractors are used to gather rocks and gravel from the rivers.  This material is used to build homes and animal pens.

This small stream runs up hill toward Muktinath, the last town we will visit in the Annapurna Conservation Area.  I found a large snail fossil while walking this stream bed.

The mountain in the background is over 20,000 feet tall.

Prayer stones around a chorten.

One evening I hung out in the river valley to shoot star trails.  Unfortunately after about an hour of shooting continuous ten second exposures my lens fogged over.  

The sun cut spectacular angles of light as it rose behind the peaks. 

Occasionally you could find a little bit of color in the mountains.

Layers of mountains.

Small reflection pool.

Most of the taller trees have disappeared.

The sun light was filtered through yellow leaves casting a colorful glow on this water channel.  

Doorway to a field of apple trees.

I like the pattern of stones and mud.

The road to the towns of Jharkot and Muktinath.  

Early one morning three of us set out to walk to the Dzong Monastery. 

A little color on the walk.
The Monastery is on top of a hill before the mountains.

Getting closer

The monastery is locating in Dzong which was once a regional capital for this area.


At one time there was a fort next to the monastery.  Some of the old mud rammed walls still stand.

Fortunately several pedestrian suspension foot bridges were built across the gorges. 

These switchbacks lead to the Thorung Pass where several trekkers lost their lives just a couple of weeks ago.

Small pond reflection with prayer flags.

I walked up to this pond to catch early morning reflections.  But it was so cold that the pond was iced over.

Terraced fields are prevalent in the mountains.

Mountains from the roof of a monastery.

This is the last blog from Nepal.  I hope you enjoyed them.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nepal - People and Culture

Nepal - People and Culture
With this set of pictures I hope to give you a feel for the people and culture of Nepal.  Most of these pictures were taken in the mountain towns in Annapurna area. 

Most of the homes in this area had flat roofs.  These roofs were used to; store cooking wood, dry foods harvested from the fields, and family areas.  Prayer flags could be seen flying from many of the homes.

Walking was the primary mode of transportation.

This man was butchering a goat.  He had strips of meat drying on a rack.

Corn, millet, apples, and vegetables were grown in the fields.  Harvesting was by hand. 

This lady is crushing what appeared to be cedar leaves for incense.  The stone was quite heavy.

Storage area beneath a house.

Water buffalo are used to plow the fields.

Almost everything is carried in baskets with a strap across the forehead.  Villagers travel quite a ways to collect wood.

Animals are kept in the towns.  Corn stocks are brought into town for forage. 

Every town seem to have monks and most had monasteries.  Culturally your first born and last born sons stay with the family.  All of the other sons become monks.

It was wash day and this woman had a small helper.

Most of the laundry was done in the local rivers and creeks.

Stone Chortans are part of Buddhist culture and can be found throughout the mountains.

There are large flocks of goats. They are bought back to town each evening.  It is hard to believe that there is enough for them to eat on these slopes.  You can find woven good made from goat and yak.

Shepard watching over his flock as sunset approaches.

Prayer wheels are often aligned around Buddhist shrines and are set in motion by pilgrims who circum-ambulate the building in a clockwise direction

Harvesting cabbage.

One of our Nepali guides doing a little flying.

Live stock freely walked the streets of the mountain towns.

A one log bridge.  Local villages had constructed log bridges across this river.  There is a three log bridge across a wider, deeper section of the river.

This courtyard is in the old section of Kagbeni.  Historically Kagbeni was a trading center set between the Mustang Kingdom and Nepal.

Sheep on the run.  We saw very few sheep herds.  Mostly goats.

We went to a large temple in Muktinath.  There are a 108 cow head spouts.  Hindus walk through this holy water saying prayers.  Since this site is at 12,000 feet the water is quite cold.

One of our guides walking through the holy waters.

There were also two plunge pools at the temple.

You can tell the water is quite cool.

Traditional prayer flags come in five colors representing the elements. Blue, white, red, green and yellow. Blue symbolizes sky, white symbolizes air, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes the earth.

The most common prayer wheels we saw were brass.

Most of the older homes we saw were rammed mud homes.  The next generation of homes were stone with mud mortar. Now they are building homes from concrete blocks.  The blocks are made on site.

All of the homes in this small town had this interesting paint scheme.

Sherpas just came down from the mountain pass were 60 people were killed a few weeks ago. Many of the trekkers hire local guides for their trek.  The guides do the heavy lifting and the trekkers carry the equivalent of day packs. 

Our guide pretending to rest after we climbed up to the snow line.

Horses are primarily used as pack animals.

This Yak was headed to the fields.

Local holy man.

Manure was collected from the pens in town and bagged by the women.  Then the men put the bags onto horses and took the manure to the fields were it will be spread as fertilizer.

Chicken feeding time.

Young girl checking out the photographers while her mom cooked us lunch.

Lunch preparation.  Gas cylinders are jeeped up to the mountain towns.  To be environmentally friendly the tea houses are asked to cook with gas not wood and to use solar for hot water.  The rooms are not heated.

Bell in a Buddhist Temple

Nepali flag and view from a temple roof.

Dal Bhat is the traditional Nepali meal.  These ladies are preparing our lunch.

Traffic jam.  We had to wait for pack horses and these yaks before we could cross the bridge. 
Back to Kathmandu for our last day in Nepal.  We visited the retail and wholesale market.

Children ran up to you asking to have their picture taken.  This boy's mom staged him for this picture.


Street vendors would ride their bicycles or motorcycles to the wholesale market, buy their products, load up, and head to their street locations.

Wholesale vendor

Headed out.

We went to a local Nepali home for lunch.  This is grandma.

Her granddaughter did much of the cooking and talked us through the process.

Our lunch.

Mom firing up Resurrection Bread. 

After lunch we headed to Pashupati.  A Hindu religious site were the dead are cremated along side a river. There are holy men here who are called Sadhus.

Sadhus give up all material goods and rely on the generosity of others. 

They like to be photographed but expect a small donation.  The equivalent of a dollar.

Smoke from funeral fires.  I chose not to include close-up pictures.   These funerals are public events.  After the fire has done it's job the ashes are pushed into the river.

My last blog from Nepal will be of the mountain scenery.  Hope to get it out tomorrow.