Photojournal of Nepal: A Getaway from an Ordinary Life
My idea of a full life has always been one of adventure, fueled by my passion in photography, writing, & travel. And even after years of working in logistics & retail, being an Economics graduate, I never quite shook off the travel bug. I attended a 10-week course on freelance journalism, after which I got myself a second-hand camera & a one-way ticket to Nepal. I have never made a better choice. – Matteo Fabi, Italian Photographer
First Stop: Kathmandu
First day in the Nepalese capital as an exchange journalist at VCD Nepal was a mixture of colors & scents. The city may be considered noisy & cluttered, but the people are kind & the experience is starting to be one of exhilaration. I notice the sky as an ever-changing masterpiece.
Thamel is the center of the Kathmandu; where backpackers find a place to stay or the merchandise they need. Being a traveler than a tourist, I evade these places & prefer the outskirts of the surrounding markets & the old cities.
In exploring less commercialized trails, you will probably chance upon two of the most amazing stupa in Asia: the Boudhanath (in the Tibetan area of the city) & the Swayambhunath, also known the “Monkey Temple.”
However, don’t let the monkeys, who are living fixtures in the temple, fool you with their seemingly unassuming looks. They will climb atop you & take from you whatever food items they can get a hold on!
Having arrived in February, I chanced upon two important religious celebrations of the Nepalese. The first, Maha Shivaratri, is a Hindu festival gathering people from all over Asia at the Pashupatinath Temple, the holy site where everyday several families cremate their dead in the burning ghats, then pushing their ashes in the Bagmati River.
Next up, Losar, the Tibetan word for “new year,” & the least peaceful moment Buddhists. As most of us are foreigners, my peers at the NGO & I joined in the celebration with utmost curiosity & glee, tasting our first changkol. The celebration lasts for 15 days & if you want to get the most out of it, be sure to come on the first three days of the festival.
As I round up my new month & the “new year” in Nepal, my friend Carlo joins me from London to spend a couple of weeks exploring my new found realm. We wasted no time.
Next stop: Annapurna Base Camp
The first two days went by with us climbing up plenty of stone-stairs & reveling in amazing sights.
The only disheartening thing about my trip with Carlo was the helicopter hovering above the valley. They were on a search for trekkers who got stuck at their base camp due to heavy snow, which we ourselves experienced first-hand.
As we try to overcome our own trekking journey, we meet Becky; 22, a British national. Like Carlo & I, she chose not to hire a guide. But after seeing the journey ahead, we decided that the safest route would be to stick together. And we made it! Although the supposedly last segment of our trek was still closed & impassable because of snow, the journey was well worth it. Finding light in all that has happened, I found a reason to come back to Machhapuchre Base Camp: to finally reach the “Sanctuary.”
Although it was quite cold in the “roof of the world,” the Himalaya, we came there just in time as the snow starts to melt. There was good company & great hot springs which I will not disclose their locations. I must execute respect to preserve the sacredness of this unexploited place. If you really want to go to these hot springs, you must find them out yourselves.
Now as you indulge in the imagery of the glistening & melting snow that is every bit paradise, how about a change of pace? Say, a safari?
Exploring more: Chitwan
An 8-hour bus ride catapulted us to the Chitwan National Park, in the lowland of Terai, in southern Nepal. In the park, we took the jeep safari, the best way to spot jungle animals.
The day after the jeep safari, instead of lining up with all the other tourists to get a two-minute elephant shower, we opted instead for a bike ride from Sauraha to the “20, 000 lakes,” cycling through the Tharu villages.
Two weeks went by quick & Carlo has to go “back to reality,” like his job. But not me. I went back to Kathmandu & used it as “base camp” for my other upcoming trips.
Destinations: Nagarkot & Shivapuri
As a warning, Nagarkot have very high living standards as compared to other places in Nepal. A bus brings you from the center of Kathma straight to the hotels at 2.400mt, where you find expensive hotels. But Nagarkot also boasts of one breathtaking view of the Himalayas; fortunately, my new job has its perks. I introduced myself as a photojournalist & bargained free advertisement of their hotel in my next article & they agreed.
I made my down through the fields of Sankhu & Palubari, aiming at the old Vajrayogini temple.
Shivapuri means “The House of Lord Shiva,” & in 2002 became the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park. It is the quickest way to escape the crowded capital, being just on its outskirts. And if you’re looking for cheapest yet best way to lodge, sleep at the locals & wander through immaculate forests during the day. A trekking trail to Nagarkot or the Langtang can also begin here.
Last but not least, a little bit of culture. You probably realize by now that I prefer communing with nature; but the urban areas can give satisfaction as well. Nepal claims a millennial history & the best places to taste this are in the plazas, where all the royal palaces are located. You can find them in several towns; the most famous are the ones of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur & Patan.
Exploring futher: Durbar Squares
Kathmandu at night
Bhaktapur, a favorite, by day
Patan’s fancy black & white
Needless to say, I have fallen in-love with Nepal. The varied landscapes, unchartered territories; I’m sure there are more to discover here. Savoring my stay here, as I walk around this kaleidoscopic land, I know I will be back soon because I would have to hit the road again.
Matteo Fabi: Currently moved to South East Asia with a one way ticket, is dealing with an apparently endless journey. He loves wild nature, road trips, fishing, movies, junck food, cold beer, and football of course. Follow his journey: Twitter, Facebook and Website