More of Annapurna

I prefer to walk. Using just your feet to get around gives you the chance to explore more of the unexpected and investigate the little things. Simply stopping to get a closer look doesn’t take much more than a thought, your legs slow and your gaze focuses on whatever has interested you.

You can choose to approach an animal with a wandering focus in an effort not to scare it, or a fellow human with a smile.

 

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Waterfalls were all around us, especially on the beginning part of the trek.
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The many suspension bridge crossings offered a nice perspective of the raging river below.

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Flowing water seemed to be everywhere, likely just a flow through from a nearby stream.

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On the higher parts of the trail, there are only a few modes of transport. A couple of the more cost effective options are horseback and human. There is quite a jump in cost to helicopter.

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This small village was a beautiful place to spend an evening. Most of our evening was spent on a second floor balcony overlooking the waterfall. We had to speak a little louder over the present roar of the water. I think that the thought of living here was on our minds.

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Most of the people in the lower elevations grow their own food right there on a small piece of land. This lady gathering some bushels of rice was was a real find in wonderful light.

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Faces of Annapurna

The swift and haphazard development of the Annapurna trail into a “jeep” road (a strange local word because there isn’t a jeep to be found in Nepal) has certainly made access easier for tourists. After a shopping spree in Kathmandu or Pokhara, newbies and wannabes alike can look the part in their North Face downie duds for pennies on the rupee.

Before the new road, horseback or humanback was the only way to get around. Slogging it through the stone villages from Besisahar was your only option if you wanted to make it all the way to Throung La Pass 5 and a half kilometres straight up from the ocean.

Every day the road seems to creep further along, eating up the walking trail as it twists and winds connecting small village after village. Maps from the year before showing where the road has ended are now out of date and you can see Mahindras as far as Manang.

Of course there is an ecological impact but more readily apparent is the economic one. A number of villages used to be frequented by visitors, staying and eating in the local teahouses on the way. Since the road went in and you can Mahindra further along, most don’t stop until they can get out of the car and so some of these little teahouses are failing.

Despite my romance with what the Annapurna area looked like 10 or 20 years ago, I did manage to find some spectacular scenery to photograph.

 

We were pretty far along before we first saw the Mannapurna.

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Despite our pace, Mannapurna looks on.Jeff_Rhude-2238_39_40_41_42

And on…

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Even the locals are impressed.

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A small village in the distance shows the scale of Annapurna II, a massive peak at almost 8,000 metres.

 

 

 

 

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Finally we see some progress. Nothing like the mountains to make you feel so small.

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We finally reach a high point where some latas were built. Prayer flags flutter with terminal velocity in the strong mountain winds. It could be the lack of oxygen causing your euphoria but for me I think its the view.

 

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Streets of Kathmandu

Well, it’s sure been a long time since I have seen the add-new post interface. The reason was mostly due to the very poor Internet speeds we encountered on our travels…Oh, and apathy.

I am back in Canada now, adjusting to the cold,  the silence and the very speedy Internet. Despite all of these things, I do miss some of the SE Asian culture, like the 2am street noodle lady and the street market chaos.

I do have a number of photos to reject, crop and touch up so hopefully you will see a lot more posting action in the near future.

 

At first glance there is only chaos in the Kathmandu streets. Back roads and stone alleyways  move cars, school children, monks and bicycles. Vendors advertise, sell and deal. Garbage collects, and tourists stumble on the uneven bricks and concrete. Domestic animals squeak by fast much larger moving objects with determination, like they are late for some kind of appointment.

A little more observation brings an unspoken, unwritten order to the chaos. Everyone seems to know what it is, likely learned by trial and error, bumps and bruises and the occasional tire tread over your foot. After a while you get it to, the advantage goes to the fast learner.

If you are looking for interesting photographs, the streets of Kathmandu are at times overwhelming and a bit dangerous, despite all of the negatives, boredom is impossible.

Some market vendors are mobile, choosing to advertise by voice rather than sign.

 

Some choose a less active approach.

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Some enjoy a morning paper.

 

You may stumble on a sidewalk workshop.

 

 

Or an inside workshop.

 

 

 

 

Or even a furniture workshop.

 

 

 

It can even be fun to watch the garbage man.

 

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A number of streets are linked to religious sites, in this case Boudhanath, one of the largest stupas in the world.

An early morning visit was very interesting as it was busy but only with locals circling the stupa and spinning prayer wheels.

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This woman seemed content to sit on top of a stupa ledge and look over the crowd. Not so unlike my experience.

 

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Beachscapes – Gili Islands, Indonesia

The Gili Islands are a hotspot destination for tourists visiting the Lombok region and even the Bali region in Indonesia.

The group of three are the most visited in the area and all three have a different vibe while on the island. All three islands are completely clear of motorbikes and cars so you can enjoy the peaceful contrast to the hustle of the nearby Bali and Lombok islands.

Trawangan is where most people come to party. There are lots of bikinis, 6-pack abs and tribal tattoos. Although it tends to be a party mecca, it is a nice vibe and most people are well behaved.

Meno is the least visited of the three and has a saltwater lake in the middle of the island. Apparently Lonely Planet reported that the lake caused a mosquito problem on the island and this is why its so quiet. Later this assertion was discounted.

Air (meaning water in Bahasa, just to confuse things) is definitely quieter than the party scene happening on T. This being said the locals and tourists alike know how to have a good time. The quirky little bars along the water are the preference to any large fancy resorts and are a lot of fun at night. Dive shops are the other major sight on the island where every hotel with a pool is being used for beginner diving courses. More rustic accommodations keep you in the island groove and offer large lounger beds on the west side for watching the sunset solo or with that special someone.

During sunset, I chose to walk and photograph along the way.

 

The islands are so close together, a few people have tried to swim between them. Too bad this area is home to some of the swiftest currents in the world. The tide is also interesting in the area. We are only 8 degrees south of the equator but since the water is so shallow until about 1km from the island, the receding tide uncovers some hidden coral fields.

All throughout Bali and Lombok, the beaches are littered with traditional outrigger fishing boats painted in vivid colors.

 

 

This is an area of the world I will most certainly miss and I will be returning here in the future.

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Blue Lagoon – Nusa Ceningan

So far the trip has been great with new experiences on a daily basis.

We made the long so very long journey via air from Vancouver almost two weeks ago and although excited we crashed quickly at our hotel in Kuta, Bali, something of an Aussie Mexico.

Kuta’s got it all, if you like to shop for cheap trinkets or sarongs, hats, baskets, or Versace handbags, not really my kind of place but I can see the appeal when you learn how cheap a flight can be from Darwin, Down Under.

Since leaving we have really enjoyed the slow pace in Lembongan and its neighboring island Ceningan connected to Lembongan by way of a rickety old wooden suspension bridge wide enough for only one scooter at a time. The first time over was to overcome the fear of falling through one of the broken wooden slats, a logical fear supported by the noise of rattling old slats bearing the weight of you and your bike. A few more times over, ripping on my scooter “The Turquoise Terror” has become a timed sport.

Everyone here has been friendly and there are four different ways to say hello in Bahasa Indonesia based on the time of day.

We have enjoyed some delicious Balinese and Indonesian food, and hung out with a few friendly locals, eager to sell us snorkeling tours or motorcycle rentals. In fact last night a young waiter at a local sports bar trusted his life to me by jumping on the back of my bike for a ride to a beach party…After serving me two large Bintangs (over 1L of beer).

Kuta was not very photogenic however the natural beauty of Lembongan and Ceningan have left me inspired and I am getting out most days to photograph hidden cliffs and crashing waves.

In a few days we plan on heading to Lombok and I will have to leave The Turquoise Terror behind, for it I will have traded some memories.

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